May 26, 2017

All-Ages Shows and the Future of Local Music

All-Ages Shows and the Future of Local Music

by Leah Streeter

The year of 21 is not just the flip of a license for Chicago (and surrounding suburb) kids, yet a long awaited ticket to inclusion. Chicago’s zero tolerance policy for underage drinking leaves many youngins excluded from what seems to be the only fun to be had. For those that are eager to speed up the aging process there are all-ages shows. All-ages shows provide teens with the opportunity to see their favorite bands and get a sneak peek of Chicago’s nightlife. Bars and restaurants that are able to accommodate artists must decide whether or not they are willing to risk their business for the sake of an artist’s youthful fan base and a sold out show.

The possibility of an all-ages venue revival has been lost in several cities with the implementation of strict underage drinking policies. According to Pitchfork, there hasn’t been a solid all-ages space “since the Fireside Bowl returned to its bowling alley roots.” A majority of the venues that host musical acts in Chicago are bars first. All-ages shows do not hold much promise for immediate bar revenue but ultimately give underage Chicagoans an opportunity to engage in the local music scene.

Interestingly enough, there are positive organizations like the “All-Ages Movement Project” that focus on saving and promoting all-age venues. Although these organizations have supporters, they’re not enough to help obtain real estate for all-ages venues. With fewer all-ages venues more artists and promoters are taking it upon themselves to negotiate all-ages shows in an effort to have more draw. Promoter for Music Garage Presents, Tim Worley, says “I prefer all-ages shows because it helps sell tickets and as a promoter you want to see a full house”. For venues, promoters, and artists that abide by city policies all-ages shows come with great responsibility and reward.

The zero tolerance underage drinking policy has left several bars in the city stripped of their liquor license impacting their ability to draw a crowd and make money. A venue in Chicago simply cannot survive without a liquor license. Congress Theater was popular for all-ages shows until they were closed down in 2013. Congress Theater lost their liquor license in May 2013. The revocation order that Congress received from the Business Affairs department also pinned five separate violations of state laws regarding narcotics and controlled substances in 2011 and 2012 (Chicago Tribune). Sure, experimentation with drugs and music historically go hand and hand. We all know the mantra; sex, drugs, and rock and roll. However, since the closure of Congress, venues have been working relentlessly to ensure that all attendees are safe and not sneaking narcotics or alcohol into their shows.

Along with underage drinking policies venues must also abide by the city’s curfew. If artists want their shows to go into the wee hours of the morning they must make a choice to either schedule their shows earlier in the evening or restrict their shows to 18+. Double Door’s Talent Buyer, Nate Arling, says “[they] mutually decide the age restriction with the band/agent and hope they agree with the knowledge, history, and demographics [they] have in [their] market.” The success and safety of a show involves everyone from security to production.

Sometimes if local artists and promoters are unable to negotiate an all-ages show with a licensed venue, they’ll host their own “underground” or “D.I.Y” show. D.I.Y. shows allow artists to be intimate with their audience, create an aesthetic that matches their brand, and live by their own “house rules”. It’s likely that if you are promoting a D.I.Y. show you allow underage drinking policies and city curfew to fall to the wayside. Underground shows are gaining popularity, but they require careful planning and a secure invitation. Overcrowding and a lack of security can attract police, shut down the show, and slap those responsible with a hefty fine. D. I. Y. shows can be inclusive of all ages, but require immense responsibility from curators who want to stay in line with the law.

Ultimately, all-ages shows are a major benefit for Chicago promoters and artists. These shows have the potential to draw larger crowds and provide underage Chicagoans with the opportunity to safely engage in the local music scene. Venue staff members work diligently to ensure everyone in attendance is both safe and having fun.

The Word Around Campus: The Organizations & Students Behind University Shows

by Maddie Price

Each year, students at universities across the country look forward to concerts at their very own schools. Be it a large scale concert such as Dillo Day at Northwestern or FEST at DePaul, or even just a cool local band coming to campus to play, students love these events. There is even a sense of school pride in having awesome shows at your very own school. But how do these events happen? Programming boards are the organizations that plan and run university shows. These organizations are student run, usually with the assistance of a faculty advisor usually. Programming boards handle all aspects of a university show – from booking talent to contracting a venue and backline company, to finding student volunteers to sell tickets and run front-of-house. Music events at universities are often funded by a student activity fee. This is a small fee that is part of the tuition all undergraduate students pay that goes towards a budget to fund on-campus student organizations. Programming boards typically receive a large portion of this budget. Since the money funding university shows comes from student tuition, these shows are generally limited to students only – however this can contribute to the sense of exclusivity, pride, and enthusiasm students feel towards university concerts.

So how do programming boards find musicians and other acts to book at their universities? Larger acts – the size of DePaul’s FEST, which last year featured Big Sean and American Authors – are often booked with the assistance of a middle agent. The middle agent aids the programming board in narrowing down the artist search by price and availability, and then help to negotiate the contract and rider and ensure that the artist arrives and fulfills their contract the day of the show. For smaller scale shows, programming boards find bands from a variety of sources. Many artists will contact programming boards directly via email or phone. Some artists also belong to an organization called the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA). NACA is a non-profit organization designed to provide information and resources to programming boards & faculty advisors – as well as to bands, artists, and vendors. NACA hosts regional conventions for programming boards each year at which they showcase talent. Programming boards are then able to book, and in some cases block book talent they are interested in bringing to their respective schools. Block booking entails booking at multiple universities within the vicinity of one another for a slightly lower fee.

If you are trying to book a show at a university, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, programming boards book their events schedules based on the university academic calendar. For instance, DePaul is on the quarters system, so DePaul Activities Board books events for Spring Quarter during Winter Quarter (i.e. around January). Universities that use semesters will start booking the semester before. As a general rule of thumb, reaching out to programming boards 4-5 months in advance, if not earlier, is usually a good time frame. It is also important to note that programming boards do more than just book events. One of the primary goals of programming boards is to teach students leadership skills and develop professionalism. So keep in mind that the people who run these programming boards and book shows at universities are also full time students. In addition to booking and planning shows they also have a full course-load, and some may even have jobs on the side, so be patient when you are reaching out to programming boards about booking. The student you are contacting may not be able to get back to you right away. So be patient and be friendly and the students will appreciate your professionalism.

College students love music events on their campuses. They are always memorable and often the source of university pride and affinity. College-age students are a huge market in the music industry and students love to brag about the cool acts their school brings. And that cool act could be you or your band! So reach out to a university programming board – just remember to be patient and professional and you could soon be playing on campus.

 

A Word from Our Consuls…

dle

By Delara Alviri and Sofia Bergfeld

We recently had the privilege to interview both Brian Rosenblatt and Brian Saucier about their vast experience working in entertainment law. You may be familiar with “the Brians” from our recent Chicago Music Professionals seminars.

Music Garage:  We first turned our attention to repeated mistakes that clients seem to always make.

Brian Rosenblatt: “Unfortunately, many clients have wonderful ideas that they think are captured in the initial terms of a contract, but they fail to pay attention to, or do not understand, other terms… Part of what the attorney must do is not merely identify what is in the client’s best interests, but also explain the terms, provisions and ramifications of any deal to the client. The best deal offered may not be what the client wants, but it may meet the minimum acceptable goals.  Or, upon realizing that the client will not get what they want, the client may need to reassess those goals and accept something less than what they hoped for.”

One of the first steps is to determine what type of strategy to follow.  “Learn what the client needs, and identify what the client wants. These are often different.  Then, do the research to determine not only who you are dealing with on the other side of the agreement, but learn that party’s needs and wants as well.” That is a very interesting aspect that one would not always think about initially!

MG:  Do you ever walk away from the table as a strategic tactic?

BR: “Absolutely. Ultimately, if the deal is not working, then the parties should not be afraid to walk away. The key, however, is to avoid crying wolf. If you threaten to walk, you had better be sure your client is willing to do so. There’s no easier way to lose credibility than to make threats that you cannot back up…  If I threaten to walk away from the deal, it is because the client is better off not doing the deal, or has a better alternative already lined up.” Finally, what aspects are most often openly negotiated?…I have found that nearly all aspects and issues are negotiable, it’s just the degree or extent to which parties will yield on certain points that varies. If a record label is offering a new band a recording contract, that label is going to want to tie that band to as many potential option periods as possible.  The more options, the more potential records, and accordingly, the more opportunities to make money.”

Brian’s partner, Brian Saucier, joined us at this time.

MG: What motivates you in the music industry?

Brian Saucier: “The music industry is filled with creative people, and not just on the musical side. The art directors, the designers, the promoters, etc. all bring their own personalities, perspectives, and energies to the industry. It’s an enjoyable and sometimes challenging environment in which to be working, and requires a different approach than you might take in providing legal services to businesses buying and selling widgets. The changes in technology certainly create issues as well; it’s a very dynamic industry from a legal, business, and artistic perspective.

MG: Do the people that you work with within the music industry play a large part in this motivation? What sets this industry apart from others and how does that play into your take-away of the job?

BS: “Absolutely. When you work with people on the creative side, the impact of personalities takes on a new level. It’s not like a bank client, for example, that is focused solely on a bottom line. At the same time, in the entertainment industry there is often a greater challenge to helping clients see the big picture for a particular issue.”

MG: In your presentation, you said that it’s good to find an attorney that is in the realm of what the artist needs. We would like to know, what roles you are most likely to play as an artist’s attorney?

BS: An artist’s attorney shouldn’t be a “dabbler” – you need both depth and breadth of knowledge in the industry, and to understand how a decision on one issue may affect another issue down the road. Also, an attorney must be both an advocate and an objective counselor – retaining objectivity is an important function and one that client’s appreciate in the long run. Another important balance is protecting the client without “over-lawyering” to the point of killing a deal or saddling the client the reputation of being difficult to work with. It’s a small world, especially in an industry where so much is dependent upon personal relationships.

“Caution: Read Before Signing” – Chicago Music Professionals Event Review

By Sofia Bergfeld

Chicago Music Professional’s second Meetup presented again by “The Brian’s” focused on contracts, specifically the cautionary action artists should take before signing any contract. They began by stating the basic elements of a contract and introduced the hypothetical of a four-member band to better illustrate the situations and terms an individual may run into during contract negotiations.

The Brian’s also discussed band agreements and stressed the importance of getting an attorney. Attorneys are there to represent only their client not the entire band. In most cases a record label is not concerned with the band behind the lead singer therefore it is extremely important to get yourself protected.

They also discussed the types of management contracts and recording agreements. The standard album cycle is around 18 months so most management contracts are the same length. The Brian’s mentioned key terms to look for in recording agreements as well. Some of these terms include: parties, team recording process, advances vs. recording budgets, artists royalty, recoupment, controlled composition clause and cross-collateralization.

The worst mistake an artist can make is coming to their attorney and asking, “What did I just sign?” Bottom line, you need to understand the agreement and there is absolutely no excuse for not reading the contract. This means you should not rely on anyone else to read the contract. The Brian’s stressed that there is also no excuse for not understanding the contract. An ounce of prevention can go a long way in the world of contracts so it is important to ask questions.

Overall, The Brian’s provided useful information for anyone who will encounter a contract in the future and even gave great advice for those that already have come in contact with these types of contracts. The session can be viewed on our Ustream.com channel.

Read The Fine Print!

 Read The Fine Print!

decart2

By Delara Alviri

Disputes between artists and their labels are nothing new. Conflict may ensue whether you are at the peak of your career or just starting out. Some stories have been known only to those involved while others have become famous music history. One can only hope to never get into this kind of argument, but it is a reality that an artist may face whether she likes it or not. Even with good intentions on both sides, contract disputes are sometimes both inevitable and unforeseen.

One famous story is between band 30 Seconds to Mars and Virgin Records. Virgin and 30 Seconds to Mars were tied for a five-album deal, but Virgin sued Jared Leto, vocalist for the band, for thirty million dollars for breach of contract when the band refused to deliver a third album to the label in 2008. The band members claimed they had not seen a cent from the label for more than two million records sold, so they demanded their right under California Labor Code Sec. 2855(a) which governs the ability of entertainers to terminate their contracts after seven years. The dispute got ugly, and Leto was adamant about his lawful rights. Eventually, the suit was settled in 2009, and incredibly, 30 Seconds to Mars signed a new contract with Virgin Records!

Probably an even more famous cautionary tale is between Slash and Duff McKagan versus Axl Rose. Axl claims that his feud is based on Slash being a “cancer…better removed, avoided, and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better,” and that Slash and Duff did “damage to my ability as a writer.” While on tour at the height of the band’s drug and alcohol addictions, Axl reportedly had his lawyers hold up his band-mates backstage and told them Axl wouldn’t join them onstage unless they signed all rights and control of the name Guns N’ Roses over to him. They agreed, and it was the beginning of the end. Skip a few decades, in 2005, Slash and Duff sued Axl for lucrative deals putting Guns songs in movies and other media despite no controlling interest in the music. In 2006, they sued again for signing a publishing deal that omitted any royalty checks to the rest of the band. There’s no end in sight for this classic group and dispute.

Another notorious dispute that went all the way to Capitol Hill was between Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster. Even Bill Clinton had something to say about this. The band, specifically singer Eddie Vedder, discovered fans were paying outrageous service-charge fees to Ticketmaster when buying tickets for their upcoming U.S. tour, which resulted in Pearl Jam scrapping their 1994 summer tour. The band was so serious about this issue that they attempted to stage its own tour of non-Ticketmaster venues. These were mostly non-traditional venues where the band would have to build shows from the ground up at every location. Economically and politically there was no upside for Pearl Jam to fight this battle, but it was a historic moment in time. It was a challenge to the existing business model, and the band risked jeopardizing their superstar status. Ultimately, Pearl Jam lost in court, but it brought the company a public relations nightmare by bringing some of the industry’s back-room dealings into the light.

There is no formula to the creation or breakdown of a dispute, but it happens all the time. Bands are sometimes compensated or forced to change; big companies may be forced to pay up. These disputes will continue to follow every artist. You’ve been warned!

CMP’s Next Event: “Caution – Read Before Signing!”

By Delara Alviri and Sofia Bergfeld 

The first Chicago Music Professionals meeting here at Music Garage was a success, and we already have the second one planned! “Caution – Read Before Signing!” will be held Wednesday, November 11, 2015 from 7 to 9:30 pm. This meeting will be focusing on the fine print of contracts- the “gotchas” that can get us all if we’re not careful! After getting feedback about the last event, this meeting will also be more friendly for those who will not be able to make it to the session in person. It will be streamed so that anyone can follow along with their mobile device or computer.

For all the Twitter fanatics out there, you can use this platform to tweet in questions for our presenters, Brian and Brian, to answer. Live tweeting will allow not only our in house audience to stimulate conversation, but also our at-home or on-the-go viewers. The broader the dialogue, the better the engagement, interaction and benefit for all, so we want to extend that circle to our virtual friends as well. “Caution – Read Before Signing!” is filling up quickly and capacity is limited so if you plan to attend – and you should – go to either the CMP group on Meetup.com or the Music Garage event page on Facebook. We all know that streaming a show is never as good as the real performance. That being said, we’re thrilled to be streaming the event, but we do not want you to miss out on the opportunity to network with other attendees at the session. You never know what a simple conversation could lead to!

Chicago Music Professionals has been steadily growing and is now connected with over 120 members on the Meetup site. Anyone can sign up at the website: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Music-Professionals/ but CMP additionally has a Facebook page that will post updates about meetings: https://www.facebook.com/chicagomusicprofessionals/. Either platform is an easy way to stay connected with the group and Music Garage.

 

“Building Your Team”: CMP’s First Session Packs the Room

By Delara Alviri

The first Chicago Music Professionals Meetup with Brian Rosenblatt and Brian Saucier was incredibly engaging and helpful. The event started with about half an hour of networking between artists, managers, engineers, students, and professionals from every branch of business. “The Brians” shared their knowledge about multiple aspects of a team that is necessary to have a successful career as an artist. They delved into specifics of multiple roles including managers (both personal and business), agents, and lawyers to name a few.

They began the talk with differentiating between managers and agents and their respective roles. Agents legally need licenses. Sometimes managers will do agent-like jobs, which unfortunately could end in a lawsuit if something goes south. Brian and Brian also cautioned against using a “friend-ager” (a good friend stepping into the manager role) as not the best business tactic. Although the friend-ager might have good intentions, they are not always the best suited for the role. Essentially you are hiring them for whom they know – you – and not what they know – being a successful manager. Additionally, they emphasized the importance of attorneys while also cautioning the overuse of legal input. It’s good to have legal input, but if everyone brings in his or her lawyer to make every decision, then progress is extremely delayed and very expensive. After their presentation, attendees were able to ask any lingering questions and network again with Brian, Brian, and fellow music professionals.

Every artist wants to have a successful career but formal knowledge about successful team building is not always readily available. Talent and passion are always important factors, but the often harsh realities of law and the business are often omitted when starting in the music industry. This MeetUp group was organized by Joe Lardieri in order to help the community in this often overlooked and misunderstood area. They were fortunate to have the Music Garage as a venue and extend an invitation to the members of its community. Music Garage is a quality facility that is about more than just being a landlord renting rooms to artists. It is a creative hub for the music industry to not only share creative ideas and knowledge but also to collaborate to create outstanding music. Continual meetings such as this will be extremely helpful for anyone at any level working in the music industry.

Chicago Music Professionals: Your Next Networking Destination

By Sofia Bergfeld

Everybody knows that networking plays a large role in becoming successful. Regardless of the field you are in, building a network is in a sense a lot like building a business. What do you do though when you know everyone within your networking circle? How do you broaden your network beyond that one-degree of separation?

Chicago Music Professionals (CMP) delivers the solution to this problem by providing meaningful content coupled with outstanding networking opportunities. We asked Joe Lardieri, organizer and event host of Chicago Music Professionals, to offer his insight into the value of networking and into the future plans for Chicago Music Professionals.

So, why would CMP be valuable in helping someone advance his or her career within the music industry? Lardieri says that CMP “brings real world knowledge in a condensed usable format and couples it with an excellent opportunity to network with peers and likeminded artists.” The problem with working alongside people that you already know is that you can become stuck in a rut. To get out of this, he has a few suggestions: “Step out of your comfort zone, find groups that will allow you to come into contact with people you wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with.” CMP also allows individuals to break this pattern, casting a wide net over the Chicagoland music scene. Like-minded people who do not know each other are brought together and subsequently, fresh inspiration is achieved through these other artists. On October 15th, CMP held their first event titled “Building Your Team: Assembling the Pieces Integral to Your Success.”

After the event, we also spoke to Tim Worley and Judi Pellegrino, young professionals who understand the difficulties that can come with networking. Their advice to those attempting to broaden their networking circles was similar. Tim said, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be proactive and have that drive. This includes follow-ups and taking risks because no one wants to work with the lazy guy.” Judi agreed and added, “Don’t be shy. Get over that nervous hump and it can lead to great things and you can help each other in your careers.” Tim admits that he was bit nervous to network at the event but once he did, he was glad. He said he made three great contacts at the event and has been collaborating with those people for the last week.

Judi and Tim also had suggestions for future CMP events such as a discussion board that would provide topics where members can express their interest or not. Tim suggested a discussion-based panel with a Q & A. “To have an actual team up there with people that aren’t superstars yet. I would like to see both sides- independent and large scale- represented at a panel.”

So, what are the long-term goals for Chicago Music Professionals? Lardieri says that ultimately, we want this to become a democratic organization. “In the long run, Chicago Music Professionals can be a medium to provide values to those who come to the events and like-minded, passionate individuals with similar interests can step up and suggest ideas that allow people to network and make connections while simultaneously gaining knowledge about what’s out there in the market.”

Book an Hourly Appointment Now!

210 Click here to book an appointment in one of our hourly rehearsal studios.

All hourly practice studios include:

-A full backline (includes a drum kit, 2 guitar amps, a bass amp, a keyboard amp, speakers, a mixer, and mics)
-Custom acoustic treatment in every room
-Instrument rental (guitars, basses, keyboards, and others)
-1/4″ & XLR cables in every room

Rates start at $5/hr per person – Solo & Student Discounted Rates Available!

To take a look at all of our hourly rehearsal studios, click here!

Book a Premium Rehearsal in Our Showcase Room

Showcase RoomThe Showcase Room at Music Garage is the most premier rehearsal room in Chicago. The custom sound treatments, secluded location, high-quality gear, and renowned staff make it the perfect rehearsal room for touring artists.

The showcase room is the perfect studio for artists who require the ultimate in performance, comfort, security and service. Our beautiful 1,000 sq foot, tuned room with 350 sq foot attached control room is the best rehearsal space to tune up for a show or get ready for your next big tour. We accommodate for anything from 4 hour rehearsals to multi-day lockouts. We can also provide an engineer to dial in your mix and get your rehearsal started right! For more detailed information and photos, click here.

In addition to all usual building amenities, (24/7 access, easy  load in, premium security, freight elevators, close location to downtown) the showcase room provides the following to create a truly beautiful work environment:

-Private security keyed elevator accessibility
-A multitude of backline package options
-Custom-tuned 1,000 square ft live room with wood walls and high ceilings
-Adjoining 350 square ft custom tuned control room also available, at no additional cost
-200 amp 3-phase Camlock service in both the Showcase and control room. For conventional power there are approximately 50 , 20 amp 110 outlets in the Showcase room.
-Experienced and professional staff – We’ll work with you to make sure all your sound and lighting needs are met
-Additional rooms available for production, catering, lounge, tech and storage
-Private off-street bus parking

To inquire about availability and pricing, give us at a call at (312) 997-1972 or email JIM@musicgarage.com.