Economic Realities of Actual Hardcore Show Promoter Differ From Those of Imagined Show Promoter

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For many years, I ran a production company/booking agency with my best friend and business partner Regan Clarke. We were young, excited and active members of the Boston area hardcore/metal music scene and realized that if we wanted to see the bands we enjoyed, well, we’d just have to book them ourselves DIY style.

So we did. And it was a blast. It was also at times pretty miserablePlenty of stories from those years. We met so many characters. They mostly ran the gamut from awesome bands and really cool booking agents to asshole bands and complete scumbag booking agents.  Club owners, sound guys and the “Can I get on the list?” crowd? Well, I could write another whole blog (or book) on that without issue, but I’ll save it for a rainy day.

Anyway, plenty of you are likely aware of the awesome punk news satire site The Hard Times. I wrote an article that satirized and summarized the aforementioned crazy years and submitted it for consideration. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the editorial cut. Hey, it happens! So with that, I decided to post it to my own site. You can read it below. Safe to say about 75 percent of it is 100 percent true. For the faint at heart, please be aware it contains a bit of blue language. You’ve been warned. Enjoy! 

Economic Realities of Actual Hardcore Show Promoter Differ From Those of Imagined Show Promoter

North Shore, Mass. – Stinging accusations have been brought forth toward Boston-area show promoter Nicholas Clarke, claiming he has unscrupulously built a six-figure empire on the backs of hardcore bands by booking shows at local VFWs and church function halls.

Clarke, who has spent the last four years as just-North-of-Boston’s most active promoter, is responsible for regularly bringing mid-level punk and hardcore acts to the Massachusetts’ North Shore communities. His efforts have grown a vibrant scene that sees punk and hardcore kids from surrounding cities and towns regularly making trips to attend his shows, all of which he absolutely loses his own money on regularly.

In regard to the accusations, locals happily weighed in on the topic with their completely uninformed version of the truth.

“Nick thinks he’s Ari-fucking-Gold,” said Local Scene All-Star Johnny Spinkick. “When he first started, shows would cost $5 at the door. Last week, he brought in three touring bands from Chicago and had the balls to charge $7. He said, the bands, ‘needed money for gas and food.’ Yeah, right. We all know he pocketed that extra money.”

According to Clarke, he spends about three Saturdays per month and now many weekdays producing shows from start to finish.

“Most DIY promoters won’t book a show unless it takes place on a Friday or Saturday,” he said. “Someone has to help out these touring bands with weekday gigs. I’ve stepped up to the plate.”

Running shows, according to Clarke, includes collecting money at the door, making sure sets don’t run over schedule and preventing the area’s self-proclaimed “biggest supporters of the scene” from sneaking in the back door of the venue to avoid paying admission. After mopping the floor once the venue has cleared, sources have stated that Clarke can be found alone late into the night sweeping up cigarette butts and glass from broken beer bottles left in the parking lot by show patrons.

“Every time I get a call from this kid, I can’t stop laughing,” says Robert McKinley, a local police officer who attends each of Clarke’s shows — a mandatory regulation set by the city which costs Clarke $350 per event. “I once asked him why he keeps doing this and he went on about ‘the scene being important’ and how ‘it’s a brotherhood, man.’ It was at that very moment I pointed out one of his ‘brothers’ who was pissing down the slide of the playground St. Mary’s Church uses for its pre-school/daycare program.”

Members of the local scene recently weighed-in on the matter even further via the highly respected message board ShoreXXXCore.com. Poster MoshFiend92 had some choice words for Clarke’s upcoming show featuring the return of local ‘core legends, Activate Hate.

“Here we go again with Clarke and his money-grubbing ways. Ten bucks at the door for admission? That asshole says he regularly loses money on these shows, but I saw him and his girlfriend eating dinner at Taco Bell just last Tuesday.”

Chimed in poster BoneNeedle18: “The one around the corner from the one-room apartment he shares with her? I just read that shit-hole they live in had no running water and was condemned by the city last week.”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” replied MoshFiend92. “Anyway, fuck him and his shows. Guy doesn’t give a shit about the scene. I’d totally start booking shows around here myself, but Zumiez just changed my schedule from five hours per week to ten, so I don’t have time.”

We were able to catch up with Clarke once more via email prior to this story going live. Below is his final statement on the matter, printed in its entirety:

“Sorry for my delayed response to your email. My cable/internet was shut off last month and I can only get to the library to use its public computers once a week since my car was impounded for unpaid parking tickets. Anyway, the show ‘MoshFiend92’ (BTW, Ricky – I know that’s you) is complaining about paying $10 for? Let’s do some math. One show with five bands. That equals $2 per band. That’s on top of the hall rental fee, payment for the cop, the two cases of water I provide and the monthly repayment plan I worked out with St. Mary’s after someone ripped the sink off the wall in the bathroom and smeared feces in the shape of an inverted cross on the mirror during last January’s Burnt Neck show. (Ricky – I know that was you, too. Can’t you just grow up?) Listen…I’m sorry, but I need to cut this note short. I only have an hour on this computer and I need to figure out how to apply for food stamps.”

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True Till Death: How Metal and Hardcore Punk Shaped my Career in Public Relations

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The hardcore/metal scene is one formed upon community, friendship and progressive ideas. Yes, it has evolved over time, but for the most part, its ideals have remained the same: choosing to focus on integrity, morality and finding light within the dark.

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The belief system referenced above also exist in public relations.  Sure, the structure, tools and players have also changed with time, but the message and goals have also remained the same.

Share stories with a positive message.  Value your relationships.  Respect your audience’s trust. Shine a light where needed.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The similarities exist because both communities have important stories to tell. I guess that is why I am a member of both.

Below, is a short documentary on Enjoy The Massacre – a Chicago-based metal/hardcore band whose talent is only surpassed by their passion for life and music. The documentary puts the finishing touches on my above-described ideas rather nicely.

An added bonus – fast-forward to 3:42 to hear about the time my band, The Auburn System, played a crack house in Detroit, Michigan while on tour with ETM in early 2008.

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How Not to Write a Press Release

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Big news hit the world of heavy music today, as Carl Severson and Paul Conroy – founding owners of Ferret Music – announced the formation of  Good Fight Entertainment, a sports and music management company that will also act as a record label.

That is the long and short of it. I advise you to take my word for it too. The reason? Well, the press release for this announcement is borderline unreadable.

What went wrong? Well, a few things. Let’s take a look:

1. Not Making Each Word Count

At almost 1000 words, this release is too long. Did we really need a full paragraph explaining that this new company plans on having a website and a Facebook page?  Also, I understand the point of endorsements by opinion-makers, but a quote from hardcore legend Freddy Cricien discussing Madball’s career is completely off topic. It should not have been included in this release.

2. Jargon

Buzz words are sometimes necessary, but I think we have a case of overkill on our hands. Take a look at the following excerpt:

“Pioneers in the hardcore and metal scenes, and former partners at Ferret Music, Warner Music and ChannelZERO, Conroy and Severson have proven track records for innovative thinking and unwavering tenacity. Their abundance of experience has taught them how to spot cutting edge talent and propel them into the spotlight.”

Terms like “innovative,” “unwavering tenacity,” and “cutting edge,” reek of contrivance and continue to hide the facts that are really important. The term “cutting edge” is even used again in the very next paragraph.

Perhaps the biggest issue here is that the name of this endeavor is not made very clear. Most of the release refers to it as “Good Fight Music.” However, there are instances where it is referred to as “Good Fight Entertainment.” I have found pages on social networking sites referring to it as “Good Fight Records.”  Are these all the same thing? Can the names be used interchangeably? When your reader is confused, you are in trouble!

3. Unanswered Questions

Last but not least, there is an unfortunate lack of information here. This announcement is newsworthy because Conroy and Severson founded Ferret Music – one of the biggest labels in the history of the hardcore/metal music scene. So…what’s going on with Ferret right now? Has it ceased to exist? If not, who is running it? The label is home to a slew of bands not mentioned as artists who will be releasing music under the Good Fight Music name. Have their contracts been terminated? Even a nonfan has to wonder what has become of the label that launched these men’s careers.

I did not write this to attack Ferret, Good Fight Entertainment/Good Fight Music or anyone involved. After all, this is huge news. Two hardcore/metal pioneers are branching out in a new direction. Hardcore stalwarts like Madball and Disembodied have a new label to call home. In many ways, this is another step towards the legitimate recognition of heavy music.

Though the bottom line still stands; I was ready to stop reading this press release by the third paragraph and this is coming from a fan. I imagine a journalist’s attention span would expire much sooner.

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My Plastic Surgery Experience

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I recently had plastic surgery.

You are probably still reading right now because you want to hear that I got calf implants or liposuction. Sorry, I’m a bit more practical than that.

An interest in body modification is what brought forth my need to go under the knife. Before jumping to conclusions, let me assure you that my tongue is still in one piece and I certainly do not have any facial tattoos.

Instead, here is the story of a 16-year-old who decided to gauge his earlobes. I liked the way they looked. Plus, the underground music and art scene I was a part of had always promoted body art and forward thinking. It all just made sense! Although I stopped wearing plugs several years ago, the time had finally come for me to tuck away all remnants of my modification days for good.

Why you ask? These ½ inch holes were becoming an albatross around my neck. They were imperfections on an otherwise perfect portrait. They were a reason for a potential employer to ask a question like, “Why do you have holes in your head?”

"Why do you have holes in your head?"
"Why do you have holes in your head?"

The time had come for bilateral ear repair.

I determined that the right man for the job was Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio of Back Bay Plastic Surgery. After my consultation, I was very comfortable with his explanation of the procedure and his staff. I was on my way!

Before sewing my earlobes back together, Dr. Del Vecchio needed expose the fresh tissue surrounding the holes. The need to preserve what was left of my earlobe made this a bit tricky.  He used a device typically used for skin biopsies to achieve this.

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With that goal accomplished, he began sewing them back together. They are now as good as new!

The final product!
The final product!

This site focuses on communications, right? I want to point out that Dr. Del Vecchio realizes the importance of social media and uses it to promote his practice. He is currently learning the ropes of Twitter and can be found at twitter.com/easybreast. You can also see footage from some of his procedures on his Youtube Channel — NSFW!  Finally, what business should be without a blog?  Read the latest at http://www.drdelvecchioblog.com/.

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