AUSTIN, Texas--Thanks to everybody who came out to hear the Artist as Entrepreneur panel on Wednesday at South by Southwest. I had a great time doing it, and I enjoyed my (too short) interactions with the other panelists and with the audience after the show.
We were pressed for time at the end, so I wanted to share some random thoughts and reactions to some questions that I didn't have time to address.
Here, I tend to agree with Adam Lewis from Planetary: if you're still opening up on a Tuesday night in your home town, you should probably stick it out there for a bit longer.
Overall, you tour when there's no more reason to stay home, either because you're ready to expand your audience, or because the city's too jaded and isn't giving you the love you think you deserve. (I know bands from Los Angeles and New York who love to tour because they get a much more enthusiastic reaction in small college towns than they've ever gotten at home.) In this latter case, though, think of touring as an investment--you're not going to make money on it the first time out.
Is it necessary for band mates to get along?
Someone asked if you have to all get along to do business together. Some of the greatest music ever created was made by bands whose individual members hated each other--look at The White Album, recorded almost as three separate solo albums by John, Paul, and George, or some of Jane's Addiction's final shows.
But if a band doesn't get along with its agent, manager, or label, it should sever that relationship as soon as it can get away with it. That kind of suffering may be worthwhile in the name of art; it's not worthwhile in the name of business.
One person asked for specific tools and services that we'd recommend, and at the end, I mentioned that one of the best investments a live performing act can make is to record every rehearsal.
Not long ago, a cheap but surprisingly effective way of doing this was to plug a PZM mike into a four-track recorder; nowadays, I'd use a laptop with simple audio-recording software like Audacity (great, free, open-source).
The slightly more expensive way of doing this used to be a digital audio tape or MiniDisc recorder; now I'd recommend high-end digital recorders with built-in stereo mics like the Olympus LS-10 or Sony PCM D-50.
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