Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Northwest Arts Booking Conference'

I'm sitting at a conference table in a theatre center in Seattle WA, where they are holding The Northwest Arts Booking Conference. Good fortune enabled me to come here from a grant from The Utah Arts Council, thanks to my cousin Cheryl, who helped me get the grant and helped make the arrangements for me to be here. Its most interesting if not a little overwhelming to rub shoulders with managers, agents, presenters, and other artists in the big wide open world of 'touring' your act. It’s a great education and eye opener, you can have a great show with great reviews and a great record, but working the networks to get your show on the road is another matter. A large portion of the conference are 'juried' showcases, which are showcases given twelve minutes to demonstrate their art form or 'show', in the hopes that the presenters, (or people who are in charge of booking in a venue) watch these showcases and pursue the process of booking their individual acts for the season. I was told today that at this particular conference there are three hundred pre-auditions or proposals to fill the twenty-nine spots that fill the showcases. Now days, all the acts have a website, because even though you may have great reviews and a good track record, you must have something visual that you can present before you can book, get representation, or management. This is what I am taking away from the conference. Like being in Austin, one can either be overwhelmed and depressed by the experience, or one can be highly motivated and inspired by the experience. I'm not sure what I am right now, however, I am encouraged that I am meeting people at all levels of this process. One of the workshops was even called, "You and Your Team Know the Value of Your Event, Does Anyone Else?" This is the dilemma I suppose with so many things, you can have something of value, it doesn't mean that people will immediately want to help you or know that it has the value you believe it has. It seems overwhelming right now, and seems once again, another year or two from getting this 'thing' off the ground. I remember in the middle of the night in Los Angeles, Kurt waking me up and reading the great review we got in The LA Times and thinking, "Thank God, now the show will take off…" It doesn't work that way, however, in the big wide world of 'show business'. So the dilemma will be surviving the year to get to the next one in hopes of a showcase or working my way into this booking network. I have made lots of connections here, however, and will continue the next several hours 'working the angles, collecting business cards, and shaking lots of hands'. I've done several one on one consultations with different people who have been very helpful, one, Brian Goldstein, and entertainment lawyer, was great with advice on my next step. It seems daunting, but I need a website where folks can examine in a visual way of what it is that I do. Dan, are you out there? Do you hear this? Doing simple music gigs seems so much easier, and so much easier for folks to understand what they are getting, and of course, the presentation process is so much easier. Two hours of playing music is ten times easier than getting up and doing an hour and a half of theatre. Its tempting to pursue the simpler form of entertainment, but I will continue with pursuing this very tough minefield, even though for now, it seems impossible.

Before I left for Seattle, I had a great visit in Boulder from Dianna T., from the big state of Texas and the great city of Austin. We had a great time in Boulder for several days, and we timed the visit so that she could attend the wonderful writing conference in Boulder, which was not as enthusiastically attended as last year, but was still of the same high level of expertise and execution. Once again, Cheryl did a great job of putting the conference together and making sure it was a first class event. I think the second year of doing any event is the toughest, because it loses some of its first time luster, and lets face it, (as so many are talking about here at this conference) the economy IS effecting all of the sub-cultures of our national community of the arts, not only is there less money for organizing these events, but also less expendable money in peoples' pockets to participate in them. Anyway, Dianna and I had a wonderful time exploring Boulder, and it was so nice to have someone to share it with, (even though Baby goes everywhere with me, she doesn't really speak a high level of English yet). It was sad to put Dianna on the plane back to Austin, after such a wonderful experience getting to know her better. Our trip to the airport was not without obstacles, as a flat tire on Interstate 15 put us two hours behind schedule, and she had to fly out Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday evening, which was not part of her itinerary. It worked out, however, although she had been through the Vegas airport, she was able to experience the lowest level of the Vegas nightlife, (the only one that I could give her) and we walked around the casino floor of a nameless (because I can't remember the name) casino, and watched the hundreds of people pulling down slot machine handles, throwing down cards and eating the cheap food at the buffets. We even found a movie theatre in the casino where we were able to see 'Social Network', which is a fantastic movie, and I agree with what they are saying, "A defining look at the face booking generation."

All I could think about after seeing the movie was all the effort I put into developing the Caffeine! project, and being unable to convince anybody of its worth as a social network. Like so many opportunities in life, timing seems to be such a part of the equation, but also I think, its so hard to find the people that speak in that language you are trying to convey. Caffeine! was a project, I believe, that even the people who where involved in doing it failed to understand the nature of it's potential. Whether its to late to continue with I still don't know, but I failed to be persuasive enough to convey the absolute need for the continuance of its life, and wouldn't be surprised if the model that it created is being utilized by someone else to an extreme success. If you are reading this and were involved in that project, if you see Social Network, you may understand the missed opportunity. Several of the people involved with that project emerged briefly when I would give it another shot of energy, but no one really had the talent or the vision to take it to the next level, and that includes me. The coffee culture is a social network that was right there ready to tap… so much for being a billionaire…

Well, its time to go to several more showcases, and then tonight, (which I'm really excited about) the dinner and the keynote speaker, Kathy Mattea. Kathy Mattea's career was largely in the nineties, as a country/western singer songwriter, but I still hear her work from time to time, but there is no mistaking her most amazing talent when you hear it. I'm looking forward to hearing what she has to say. Look her up if you don't know her work, and I promise, you will remember a few of her songs.

There is so much more that I need to write about, but will have to keep pushing it back. I need to address and talk about the music scene in Boulder, and the music benefit of which I was the reluctant recipient of. I do think it sparked something profound, however, and will write about that soon. I also need to write that letter to the community of Boulder, thanking them for the amazing support the benefit received. I'll get to that soon…

1 comment:

Gerry said...

Glad some other member of the family decided to blog. I sometimes feel like the lone ranger of the family on the Internet. I was very interested to read about where you are and what you are doing. I just finished making chicken enchiladas. Wish you were here to sample. I can't mention them to too many people as they look at me longingly. Two have been promised some.
I think if there is money to be made in the entertainment business there is a way to do it now that has been charted by many contenders. Sounds like you are getting the lowdown. The rest of us kind of hang around the edge free gliding content with making a littler stir. I think book publishing fairs are established the same way. If someone has the energy might be worth trying to work your way into that magic circle. Just as well try if a path opens up. Fall is in the air but it is still warm in Phoenix!