FEATURE: Six Of The Best – Massa Confusa’s Guide To Being A Band On A Budget In The North East | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ally Morton of alt punk twosome Massa Confusa was kind enough to give us some words and advice on how to get by in the vibrant North East music scene. With part one released earlier this week (which you can read here), we’re back with part two today. So here are some more slices of tip-top advice, and should you wish to see what Massa Confusa are all about, they have another Massa Confusa presents show at Northumberland Arms on Saturday 15th October (more info here) and an album launch at NEMIX on Saturday 19th November (find out more here). Over to you Ally…

Merch
Use Moo for cards and Awesome Merch for t-shirts, badges and stickers (or Zazzle). Ask each company for dimensions and templates if not automatic on their website. Always remember to add a proper ‘bleed’ where needed and send the correct colour format e.g. CMYK for printing, and RGB for general online use. We actually use Footprint Co-Op in Leeds for t-shirts, but you could look into screen-printing yourself. Matt hand-made all of our CD sleeves, but Footprint did an awesome riso print for Obsessive Computive Disorder EP for us. Our CDs are burned and printed at Disc Zone based in Gateshead. Also check out North East creatives Exquisite Corpse Print and Ink and Toil.

Self-promote
Create a press release (make a template to re-use) for your releases and one for gigs you play (you can’t always assume a promoter has done this as some promoters take on too many events to handle). Send your releases to local press such as NARC, NE:MM, The Crack, NE Volume, Notesonsound, Do You See Ants Too?, Gigs North East, Gigiti and the Evening Chronicle and Middlesbrough Gazette; but also use Hypemachine to find and target blogs, zines, reviewers and national press that may also be interested in your sound. Yeah Buddy! DIY are a great community to approach too.
Upload tracks to radio via BBC Introducing, Amazingtunes, and Freshonthenet, and also target local radio like Spark FM (Sunderland), The 1:45 on NE1FM (Newcastle), Grind on Ignition (Stockton), Loose Canon on 6 Towns Radio (Stoke-on-trent), Basement Scene (Bradford) and EGH Radio (Hull).
Apply to festivals like Evolution Emerging (check Generator’s website around January), The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City.

Put on your own shows
Find a venue and check the price, if there is a PA and if there is a sound engineer. Some venues in the region are free to hire, or just PA fees to pay.
Choose a night to play. Fridays and Saturdays are popular because people are more likely to go out, but it is also more likely that you will clash with other people’s events. If you know already you’re going to clash, then try to make your night different in some way e.g. by genre. Making a playlist to theme your night is also a good method of doing this.
Choose the bands. Do you want a mixed bill? Do you want a touring band too? A touring band is a great way for getting yourself gig swaps to other cities, but of course you will have to cover their costs too. Decide if you want the touring band to headline or not. This may sound strange but there is in fact a current trend for some promoters to have a local headliner instead of a touring headliner, as it can sometimes retain some of your audience who won’t otherwise take a risk on a band they have never seen before.
Check what bands need. Do they need a rider e.g. drinks? Do they need feeding? Do they have dietary requirements? Do they need a place to stay? Are they happy to have a cut of the money made on the night or do they need a guaranteed amount regardless of whether you make a profit or loss? Do they need/will there be time for a proper sound check or just a line check? Clarify these things before confirming a booking, and then update them with load-in times and parking info.
Organise gear sharing. Who’s going to provide the drum kit? Who will provide amps? Will a band need a DI box? If equipment is an issue, then you could book a practice room as a venue and make it a ‘bring your own drinks’ event. These practice rooms will provide amps and a drum kit. Check if you can leave equipment overnight if you think taking gear straight away on the night could be problematic for any of the bands.
Set realistic ticket prices and have a float to match e.g. for a £4 ticket charge you need lots of £1 coins and for a £5 ticket price you need lots of fivers. Have a marker handy, and someone to do the door. If you’re the door person and you’re performing too, then make sure you have cover for when you play.
Create set times with realistic changeovers to avoid bands running over and to give gig-goers breaks for socialising and smoking (sounds obvious, but band after band can be tiring). Make sure bands stick to the times on the night. Give a copy of the times to the engineer if you have one too.
Create a poster to put up in record stores, pubs and venues; and make a Facebook event page and press release to be listed in magazines and online. Allow at least 8-6 weeks for printed press. It’s worth asking for print deadlines month by month. Send these to local press such as NARC, Gigs North East, The Crack, and NE Volume; and upload listings to Songkick, Gigiti, Amazingtunes and Music Glue. Tweet and post periodically, linking in local press and people you know who will retweet and post. Also try flyering at relevant gigs.

Finally…
…go to gigs and networking events like Music Futures organised byGenerator or the events Tees Music Alliance in Stockton and Tracks in Darlington, join blogs and follow the Musicians Union. If you’re worried about the security of your equipment, then I recommend getting musical insurance from Allianz which offer an affordable musical instrument policy that covers the UK and the EU, as well as unattended vehicle cover (you can specify individual items if you have things you only want to be insured at home and things that you want insured outside of the home).

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