I’m no expert on the matter but, after having playing over 200 shows in the last four years, there are a number of things I have learned:
1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF My voice is a most precious and delicate instrument; it took nearly losing it to come to that realization. Investing in vocal lessons literally saved my voice. Now, before any show, I take the time to warm up and stretch my vocal muscles with the guidance of one of my mentors and industry go-to-girls, Cari Cole. I also learned to practice finger exercises that minimize the repetitive strain brought on by guitar playing for hours on end each day. Of course, exercising your whole body, keeping hydrated and taking time to rest are super important too!
2. MATCH YOUR VENUES WITH YOUR VALUES In the beginning, I played just about anywhere I could get a gig. That said, as great as bars are for well paying cover gigs, they are not well suited for sharing intimate moments with the audience, which is very important to me. I now veer toward cafes, galleries, and private homes, venues that better facilitate one-on-one connections with my listeners.
3. CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY Getting people to want to come out to your shows requires more than just putting up posters and having an online presence. Connecting one-on-one with people in a genuine and meaning full way is the most effective advertising in the world; it takes time and boundless energy but is priceless. Whether it is in person or online, it is important to build sustainable relationships and engage community. As a single mother of one, with a full time day job, in addition to managing a music career, I have found the use of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Reverbnation to be invaluable assets. They have allowed me to establish and cultivate relationships with a diverse range of people in both my local and global communities.
4. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE WORTH (AND ASK FOR IT) As much as I love sharing music, and would continue to create it whether or not I was paid, I have come to realize that my time and skills are valuable and gear costs money! All of the peripheral things required to make my music accessible – rentals, gas, guitar strings, rehearsal time, business cards, posters, website costs, membership fees, etc. – really add up. I quickly learned that it was necessary and warranted to ask for payment. Be mindful of what you ask for, though; if you ask for change, you’ll most likely get just that. I always make a point, now, to ask for listeners’ gratitude in the form of attention AND dollar bills.
5. BEFORE YOU TOUR – DO YOUR RESEARCH As an independent artist, touring can be a really expensive and overwhelming venture. I wish I had done more research and planning before hitting the road! I made sure to registered all my songs with SOCAN and submitted for all my live performances but I wish I had read these two articles first: How to make the best of a Canadian Tour & Booking Your Canadian Tour – Tips by Ann Vriend. Did you know that there’s even funding available for touring through FACTOR!? Like I said, do your research.
Honestly, of everything I’ve learned, success really isn’t about money, it’s about people. For me, taking things to the next level has always been more about achieving greater depth with my audience rather than higher ranks on the charts. Music has always been a way to centre myself, allowing me to become aware and fully grounded in the moment. It has been a way for me to communicate my experiences, build relationships, and engage like-minded individuals in my community. If I were to measure success by the quality of my relationships, well then, I think I’m one of the most successful people I know!
HELPFUL BLOGS/ARTICLES ON TOURING SOCAN How to make the most of a Canadian Tour http://www.socan.ca/creators/member-resources/music-business-articles/how-make-most-canadian-tour SAC http://itallstartswithasong.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/booking-your-canadian-tour-tips-from-ann-vriend/ The DIY Musican http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2012/01/new-ways-musicians-can-earn-money-in-2012/ Music Biz Academy http://www.musicbizacademy.com/knab/articles/10makealiving.htm MUST HAVE TOURING RESOURCES
The Indie Venue Bible This is a live music venue directory that features 32,000 venues and 3000 booking agents in the US and Canada. There are listings of venues of all sizes including clubs, restaurants, lounges, coffee shops, festivals, theaters, halls, churches, book stores, community centers, house concerts, jams and open mics. There are also over 1000 colleges listed for any artist that wants to plan a college tour. There are 6 US directories (NE, SE, N. Central, S. Central, SW and NW) and one for Canada. You get a discount if you buy several. The directories are coded with easy to use colors to identify genre.
SonicBids This is a terrific service for those who are serious about performing live. You get loads of touring opportunities and resources for clubs, festivals, events, etc, in the US and abroad, at a very low cost.
Musician's Atlas This resource is a must have for any artist who wants to tour or get exposure in cities around the country. It lists numerous resources - clubs, radio stations, press, record stores, and contact info to book into specific colleges. It also includes conferences & festivals, organizations, record labels, publishers and much more.
Musician’s Guide to Touring and Promotion A a city by city guide to touring resources.
OnlineGigs A subscription service that virtually automates the administration of booking and promoting bands. For those of you who want to get on the road and don't know where to begin, this touring resource is worth it. For a small monthly fee, it offers a huge directory of industry contacts and the ability to track correspondence with them, print labels, issue contracts, automatically update any website with gig information, automatically generate a tour itinerary with directions, and issue press releases to local media in those markets. Use this and you'll have fewer excuses for not getting on the road! Here's an even better reason to try it.
The following is an excerpt from a most humbling review of the January 19th House Concert at Dean’s, written by Brandon Wint, the poet that is love.
"Amanda, who had been billed as the show’s true feature artist, got the evening underway. Amanda is a woman with a conscious, intuitive, and consistent will to connect people. Her music expresses a desire to love and be loved, and the nuances of what it means to have those desires in a complex world. Her music is lilting, introspective, comforting, precious, reflective, breakable and sometimes broken. It is the sort of music that asks to be listened to and compels its hearers to make themselves vulnerable. Her brand of folk, and the emotional intellect of her song-writing calls out to hold you, but she is, for the moments she is on stage, asking also to be held by the audience. As such, she was the perfect person to set the tone in an environment as intimate as the one Dean (and the audience) enabled that night. Her set rocked us gently, as it always does, and let us know that no matter what transpired that night, we were loved, safe, and held."
To read more visit ... http://www.brandonwint.ca/
~ Royal Oak ~ DOWNTOWN - Pretoria Bridge by the Canal on Echo Drive TUESDAYS: 9pm-12am Great sound guy here and you will have a monitor to hear yourself. ~ Café Nostalgic ~ DOWNTOWN - 603 Cumberland Street near University of Ottawa. THURSDAYS: sign up at 8:30pm, music at 9pm You're style of music would be well suited for this college crowd. ~ Umi Café ~ CHINA TOWN - Somerset West near Bronson Ave FRIDAYS: 7pm-10pm Make sure to get there early as the sign up list fills up quickly. The most unique and powerful performances are to be found here. The artwork is constantly in rotation to highlight local artists or members of the Umi co-operative. Unlike the others listed, Umi offers fair-trade coffee and tea in lieu of alcohol. Umi also has a piano and full drum set available. ~ Irene’s Pub ~ GLEBE - Bank Street near Holmwood Ave SATURDAYS: 2 pm – 6 pm This open mic had the best sound in town. Huge stage and some of the more high caliber musicians...you might want to work up to this one. Make sure to try their incredible homemade veggie burgers (vegan!) Soooooo good! ~ Quinn's Pub ~ GLEBE - Bank Street near Somerset SUNDAYS: 9pm-12am This is the open mic hosted by the local pop sensation Amanda Rheaume. Very small (no monitor) but very inviting, there is a house guitar if you need.
Next stop Toronto to spend some quality time with my outrageously talented friend Katey Morley. A bubble of uncertainty rises in my stomach...just realizing I still hadn't heard from her yet. We had made some impromptu plans last weekend while at the CD Release before she headed off to New York for the week. Hmmmmmmmm. Katey, Katey, Katey - Katey's not answering any of the messages I’ve left (text, facebook, answering machine) Uh oh! 4:30pm - I arrive at Union Station - still no word. How 'bout a ride on the trolley to bide my time while I wait on a response from Katey? Uh...no. The Trolley doors are super skinny and there is no way I’m going to be able to haul all my new awesome luggage up onto this transport without pulling another muscle. About-face...to the taxi stand. 4:50pm I arrive at Katey's doorstep - buzz - no answer. Duh! As I wander through the Kensington Market I take in the cacophony of sound and multi-sensory delights, until the novelty of playing gypsy is beaten out by the sun (I am now toting two bags of luggage plus a guitar strapped to my back). I finally drag my weary bones to Manic Coffee where the staff are sympathetic and allow me temporary residence. 6pm… 7:21pm. No Katey. Okay, perhaps it's time to check out the new hostel that just opened down the street. 7:24pm...stopping mid-stride, Katey calls [all together now - exhale in relief]. She’s home and overly apologetic for having forgotten when I was coming up...apparently she had just returned from New York the day before and was out all day doing errands...easily forgiven. Ahhhh.....settled, showered and luggage free. Now I'm ready for a girls night out with Katey. She's invited me to Slack’s Gay Bar where she DJ's ocassionally...what a woman! She spun, Martini #1, we danced, Martini #2, lady-like pickup, Martini #3, another offering, Martini #4, I spun...1, 2 ,3 4 Martini's OUT! Fail: Never drink more than 2 straight-up martini’s, especially when you have little to no tolerance for alcohol. Oh, and just in case you were wondering I managed to make it back to Katey' s without further incident. Lights out! Tomorrow's going to be interesting....To be continued in DAY THREE: The Mod Shop, Ice Pack, Painted Lady, Feedback ~ PS. Thank yous The Go-train for being so roomy and a smooth ride all the way to TO. The Beatons, Steph, Lorne for food, transportation and wicked geroursity. Manic Coffee staff for a place to rest and the best Ginger & Red Pepper cookies on the planet!!! Katey Morley for a place to rest my weary head, sweet tuneage and awesome dancing! Judy Jetsun for a night I almost forgot.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO TOUR CONTINUED...
Showered off the efforts of yesterday and started the day anew. I grabbed my guitar and began playing for the people in photographs strewn about the house. Usually I find playing quite soothing but today, with every strum and full-breathed inhalation a throbbing pain presented itself. I think I may have pulled a muscle in my back. Looking over at my massacred luggage accusingly, I pouted in resignaton for I knew it was time to retire a once trusted and reliable friend.
Looks like I'm off to the mall! To hell with Hamilton's phantom buses...taxi it is. Piping hot latte in hand and $300 later, I walked out with the best light-weight, industrial strength, luggage a hardcore traveller could want - rolls like a dream. The true test will be when I pack 'em solid with all my food, gear, clothes and bedding. As I roll up to the drive of the Dead Man's house, Stephanie (the most awesomest lady ever) pulls in to take me out for lunch. Perfect timing....what a woman! We pack up quickly and I leave a CD in addition to excessive thank yous on the livingroom table. Bye-bye Hamilton! It's off to have lunch in Burlington at the Beaton’s (Steph’s parents home).
As I walk through the Beaton's front door I am greeted by the most enthusiastic dirty blondes I've ever met. Two gorgeous yellow Labs circle 'round, showering me with their drippy-nose snorts and doggie drool kisses. I was delighted by the attention until one of them, Sadie, nipped me in the ass. Now, I understand stiffing and licking is to be expected when approaching certain animals but, I have to say I felt a little violated when Sadie clipped her bouche on my bottom. "Sadie" should have been named "ass nipper" to give all strangers fair warning. Sheesh! Thankfully, I was able to calm myself enough to escape to the back yard and enjoy a lovely luncheon with Beaton's.
Steph and her partner Lorne helped me with my luggage to the Go Train. Quick hugs all around as we will see eachother tomorrow night at The Painted Lady. (Both offered to come and work the door/sell merch for me that night...I want to smooch these people) ...to be continued.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO TOUR - HAMILTON Up at 4:30 am to catch the early morning train to Hamilton. Successfully managed to catch the 5:40am train, carting luggage that weighed slightly more than myself. Slept the entire way to Aldershot. Next stop...coffee vender. Once I reached the Hamilton bus terminal I lugged my obese luggage round in circle until I finally broke down to ask a local where to find the local transit. My baggage sagged as much as I in the mid day sun, dressed in black, head-to-toe in high-heeled leather boots. Should of had a coffee before I got dressed this morning...bah! Onward to the Hamilton suburbs... I heaved my luggage from the bus and as soon as it hit concrete, the wheels went from bowed to broke. I dragged that thing near half a kilometre on road with no sidewalks, through rock and dirt along the roadside, in my goth apparel....sun-a-blazing, all the way to my temporary homestead. Fitting I suppose, as I was welcomed by a vacant home scattered with mixed memorabilia and photographs of a life long since passed. Showered, appropriately dressed and rehearsed I sought out to do my first show at The Freeway... ETA 7pm for a 7:30pm setup/soundcheck. I did well navigating to the main bus terminal, although Hamilton appeared to have a number of phantom buses. The schedule indicated three buses that should have arrived in the time I waited but, if they had, I couldn’t see them. Inpatient and melting, I did something I've done only once before, when I was old enough to know better and too young to care....I crafted a sign, with “KING ST” written in thick pink highlighter, and flashed it pleadingly at the drivers trapped behind the red light. As luck would have it, I catch the attention of a young bloke. When I boldly approached with hopeful anticipation of his willingness to accommodate a lady with a guitar, he happily invited me along. He zipped through traffic like a balsie pigeon, nearly putting the Benz in a gorgeous Mercedes. He finally screeched to a hault, four-ways blinking, directly in front of The Freeway Coffee Shop. Time: 7:28pm. Phew...I made it alive and just in time for soundcheck. Just as entered, I met the fabulous Stephanie Sisman. This incredible women booked ¾ of the shows for this long weekend mini tour (only one of which we were scheduled to play together). It was a pleasure and honour to share the evening with her band, Tall Paper Mountains. There was a small turn out (most people had headed out of town to enjoy the weather at their cottages, I’d wager). But honestly, the sound was brilliant, the audience was attentive and the new friends I met that night were nothing short of amazing. Everything was totally worth it. To be continued.... DAY TWO: Bottom Biting, Manic Coffee & 1,2,3,4 Martini's PS. Thank yous to Deanna, Stephanie, Tall Paper Mountains, Balsie Driver, The Freeway Cafe and all the fans new and old who supported this show.
$1.00 from every album sale of Universe in a Soft Shell (digital and physical) will be donated to Cornerstone Womens Shelter, a local refuge for homeless women in Ottawa. You can support this amazing community charity as well as original independent music by purchasing your copy today at either http://amandacottreau.bandcamp.com or iTUNES. ~ To make a direct donation to Cornerstone Womens Shelter please go to http://www.cornerstonewomen.ca
I am ecstatic to announce that Universe in a Soft Shell is now available online in digial format at amandacottreau.bandcamp.com. It will become available via other digital media outlets (itunes, amazon, zune) in the new year.
The official physical release is set for February 2011 however if you are wanting an autographed copy/stocking stuffers for xmas, please contact me directly via email@example.com or any of my other social media sites to pre-purchase the album $10 + shipping (if required).
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
For your continued support and encouragement along the way.
Universe in a Soft Shell EP Estimated Release: Late Fall 2010 - 1. Intro Song 2. Hiatus 3. Hold on Tightly 4. Universe in a Soft Shell 5. Fall 6. Tattered Boxers 7. Couldn't Wait - "County Fair" will be released as a single on vinyl. Date TBD - For now, these tracks will remain available on-line. Full-length versions will be available for purchase in the new year.
This would not be possible without the amazing support of my friends, family and fans (donors). Much love and gratitude!