As is my fashion, I don’t always follow my own plans to the letter. Mostly because I saw a variety of bands I had no intention of seeing originally. This is how one hops around from place to place, although not aimlessly.
If you are that kind of person, here’s one way your evening might have gone down:
Visit the Norman Music Festival version of a SXSW official film and music show case at the stARTNorman building, further educate yourself on the ways the Oklahoma Film and Music Office is trying to help musicians and other creatives through tax incentive programs and music guides, while growing show cases for Oklahoma talent in the film and music industry. Understand exactly how monetary incentives attract the film industry to Oklahoma and influence their decisions to “keep it local,” like when film productions select music for their film, for example. And also pick-up general time management tips for all.
Once you’re done getting acquainted with that new part of Norman Music Festival, you end up at Tres and eventually hop around from Opolis, Tres, Red Brick Bar, and the Brewhouse. And of course hit up random spots on Main Street. But that’s another post.
Let’s revisit the Oklahoma Film and Music Office.
The next event they’re holding is a VIP Music Mixer at Astronomics 110 E. Main Street from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday April 26th. If you bought a sustaining base membership, are an artist with Norman Music Festival, a press person, or someone else with access you should go check it out.
If you can’t go to these things, but want to know what the deal is, here’s a brief recap.
First up: Dos and Don’ts of getting your music into a movie or other kinds of commercial work.
Casey Twenter, Rudderless, says if you send him music you should know the following: Be yourself, send your music in with a clear sense of who you are and what your style is, don’t try to be “everything to anybody.” Twenter also said he archives and categorizes the music that is submitted. That way the next time he is working on a project he knows where to find the artist with the song he needs. He said easy access to your music is key, so have a SoundCloud, Dropbox, or some other method that makes your music easy to listen to and transfer.
Jonathan Fowler says if you submit music to their agency and follow their instructions to the letter, you will not get turned down. But you have to make it easy for them to file your info for future reference. It’s all about time management, kids. You might also get in some practice with sending in applications right here.
And if you’re annoyed that “some” artists get more spotlight time, while others remain in the murky shadows of obscurity, just know that artists with some kind of marketing and PR plan are often more successful than those who aren’t trying to figure out how to get their music into the “right” hands. The “right hands” in this scenario being the listeners, festivals, booking agents, labels, reviewers, and businesses who will either pay them money for their music, performances, and merch, and/or potentially help them promote it.
All said, a Norman Music Festival organizer chimed in with their preferred platform for audience building: Bandcamp.com. First, there’s an app for it. Second, Bandcamp.com is free for the artist, who can then choose to offer their music as a free download or charge for it.
So, let’s say your band forgets to bring merch to a gig, like a couple of bands I saw last night. But hey, no worries! At least you can tell the audience you’re on bandcamp.com. And not only that, you tell them they can listen for free, download for free, or pay if they like. (Btw, thanks Defining Times for the free music you told us about last night. I’m currently listening to the latest EP online.) Or if you’re like Limber Limbs you create download cards for your bandcamp page and sell those at gigs instead of CDs. Which might be easier to remember and lug around from place to place, just sayin’. Also, I know being a poor musician sucks. But if you can get a smart phone, get a Square card reader (so tiny and fits in your pocket) that way you can take multiple forms of payment at your gig.
Biggest lesson you should get out of this? Time management and organization are key for creating opportunities for transactions between artists, agencies, and potential fans.
Intersection of art, commerce, and government:
While Oklahoma is getting recognition for its talent and recent high-profile film productions, like Chelsey Cope getting some attention for her song in August: Osage County, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office is always under a barrage of budgetary threats from jerks that don’t understand a thing about the industry their trying to kill. Every year there is some new excuse as to how it is wasteful or a negative force. It is neither of those things. So even as ACM@UCO is churning out graduates with degrees in various supporting roles in the music industry, Oklahoma is a still a shitty place to find a job you can support yourself with. So good work lawmakers for growing a fertile business environment for anyone but big oil and other special interests.
Case in point: Jennifer Tindal. I met her for the first time at the event. She’s been interning for Sony and sending OKC.NET music on the chance we might review it for over a year now. As I apologized that we’d yet to review anything from them, she told me not to worry. That it’s essentially her job to place music with people that might like it. And if they do, great, because they’ll be honest when they write about it, and if not better luck next time. She graduates this May and is looking for jobs in L.A. and N.Y.
For the record, while she was born in Hawaii, she was raised in Lawton. Tindal promptly got the hell out when she graduated high school to attend ACM@UCO in 2010. If Oklahoma truly cares about keeping its more driven graduates, perhaps the less informed could to stop attacking the creative industry. Either that, or the more informed could drop some knowledge on their asses.
Just to put the amount of work it takes to get attentions in perspective: you could have someone like Tindal placing Oklahoma music with a variety of industry resources and promoting the state as a place of business as a full-time job, that over the course of a year, helps drive up productions located in Oklahoma or even just plants the seed with the people who are still scouting for locations, but since the opportunity to do that here is not immediately available, Oklahomans lose out again as people who love to do this go elsewhere. And it really doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately things are moving in a positive direction, however it is slow. All said, I hope by this time next year this portion of Norman Music Festival sees further growth. I know there are a lot of different film groups in the metro that could be out there talking about music and film because I see them at deadCENTER and on Facebook. It would be nice to see more of these groups come into contact.