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 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 clearly 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 file for food stamps.”

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Life on the Cloud: Google Docs for Small Business

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Can a cloud improve your work day? Save time and resources, encourage productivity and cut overhead? What if it cost virtually nothing? Well, look no further – it’s likely time consider Google Docs.

A cloud-based office suite with data storage capabilities, Google Docs provides free word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow services equipped with menus, shortcuts and dialog boxes similar to Microsoft Office. Google Docs can store any type of file – even those not in Google Doc formats. It also provides 1 -GB of storage per user and allows real-time, collaborative editing capabilities. Perhaps most important, Google Docs allows users to access their files from any computer (or mobile device) – all that is required is an internet connection.

And of course, this is in addition to all the other great resources Google has to offer. Gmail provides easy-to-read threads that are a great for keeping track of conversations and important information. Its calendar capabilities practically mirror those of Microsoft Outlook and G-chat allows instant communication much like AIM. And let’s not forget about the Holy Grail – the company’s outstanding search capabilities.

No more self-emailing documents, wasting time exchanging edits and stalling progress on important projects. Google Docs is an extremely simple way for small business to limit costs and increase efficiency. Don’t be a Juggalo. Get onboard.

This article originally appeared on IAmTheTrend.com.

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Advice from the Pros: Four Key Tips for Pitching Bloggers

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I love networking events. As a PR pro, why wouldn’t I? : )

Last night I attended The Publicity Club of New England’sBlogger Relations for PR Pros” panel at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. It was a blast.

The panel was made up of a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds.   Some valuable advice was shared. Below are a few of my favorite nuggets from the night. Enjoy!

  • Only use embargoes as a Trojan to get coverage – then tell your client you’re brilliant” – Jason Keith, SMB blogger, Boston.com

 

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Social Media and Pizza: A Case Study

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I live and work in downtown Boston, MA. When it’s time for lunch, I have many options. Today, I wanted to try a new place. I wandered down Newbury Street and decided to check out Bostone Pizza.

Bostone Pizza claims that they are Boston’s “only authentic NY pizzeria, featuring thin crust Neapolitan and deep dish Sicilian pizza.”

I tend to like my pizza covered with the most outrageous toppings you can think of.  I also love it prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, Bostone caught my attention. But when it’s my first time in a joint? I opt for a straight slice of cheese. That’s just how I roll.

Well, the slice did not disappoint. But you must remember that there are tons of lunchtime options around here. Newbury Street alone offers everything from Indian/Chinese fusion to Spanish tapas. How can a pizza parlor compete?

I think Bostone is going to be just fine.

While dining, I checked in on Foursquare. I also chose to share my location on Twitter. Within an hour, Bostone sought me out and recognized my patronage. Trust me; this sort of thing makes a difference. I think that many of Boston’s plugged-in professionals and undergraduates would agree.  

The next time I’m looking for lunch in downtown, I think I’ll try Bostone’s Mediterranean with extra feta.

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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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Hipster Journalism: A Case Study

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I’m up for reading snarky pop culture pieces as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean that some hipster journalist has the right to assassinate anyone’s character they choose.

The latest piece to burst out of the bohemian media gates comes from James Montgomery of MTV news. On the heels of Mark McGwire’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Montgomery decided to list several figures in the music industry who he believes are steroid users. Among them was Dillinger Escape Plan front man, Greg Puciato. Montgomery explains:

“The diminutive wailer for New Jersey spazzers Dillinger Escape Plan is ripped enough for a man five-times his size, and though he’s denied using steroids (he chalks his physique up to “eat[ing] a lot of protein and work[ing] out a lot”), we’re still not entirely convinced. Then again, positively destroying the stage on a nightly basis has to have some benefits, right?”

Puciato, who subscribes to the belief that “sometimes pacifism is simply being lazy,” responded to the accusation by issuing a statement to Noisecreep.com, decrying the allegation and giving its author a piece of his mind.

Montgomery soon realized the consequences of his actions after no doubt being scorched by legions of DEP fans.  He eventually reached out to Puciato via Twitter early Wednesday morning and not only apologized, but offered to write a retraction.  Strangely enough, Montgomery also tried to explain that his article was never intended to insinuate anyone was using steroids, but that is a story for another day…

While Montgomery is not exactly a reporter for the New York Times, his piece still lacked common sense and decency.  There is nothing funny about unfounded accusations of drug use.  One might wonder why he even wrote the article and question how much he actually believed in it since he was so quickly willing to apologize for it. Was it a looming deadline? A case of writer’s block? Maybe a good old fashion lapse in judgment? The world may never know.

What do you think?

Update

Montgomery has added an amendement to his article. In it, he issus an apology and attempts to explain his actions.

To err is human; to forgive is divine.

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Meghan McCain Strikes Again!

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I have shared my thoughts on Meghan McCain before and her latest media flair up reinforces my previous opinion.

For those not in the know, Meghan is back in the spotlight only this time it doesn’t stem from an appearance on cable television.

CNN summarizes:

“Meghan McCain is breaking her silence following a wave of media attention over a picture she posted on Twitter Wednesday night.

The revealing picture of herself in a tank top, which left little to the Twitterverse’s imagination, immediately drew harsh criticism from other tweeters, prompting an upset McCain to declare of the social networking Web site, “What once was fun now just seems like a vessel for harassment.”

The photo in question featured a curvaceous McCain in her weekday evening attire. I will not be sharing it here, but it can be found with a simple Google search. She has now taken to her blog at the Daily Beast to proclaim that she is not a “slut,” and to defend her actions.

McCain is certainly not a “slut.” Anyone saying otherwise I do not agree with, so let’s just get that out of the way right now.

However, that does not changes the fact that she willingly shared this photo and attached no thought of the repercussions.  Perhaps she is still is having a bit of difficulty navigating the world of media relations?

McCain willingly shared a photo that contained sexual connotations and that inevitably is going to cause media interest. In her blog she makes mention of the sexual double standard that exists in the media and I completely agree with her. However, McCain doesn’t exactly go out of her way to remind us that she has a history of contributing to the same double standard she is now condemning. After all, she did publicly tout the effectiveness (and display her admiration) of Rep. Aaron Schocke’s decision to release photos of himself sans shirt!

So where does this leave us? Does McCain really have the right to decry a tactic that she once championed? What are your thoughts?

Please leave any sexist or political comments at the door…

 

meghan-mccain1

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A "Pundit" Gets Burned on National Television

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I am in complete awe of Meghan McCain’s disgraceful appearance recently on Real Time with Bill Maher…and I’m not even talking about politics!

A little background, courtesy of the Huffington Post:

“It all got started during a discussion of George Bush, who McCain acknowledged was a less than perfect president. But McCain also pointed a finger at the Obama administration in Bush’s defense, saying she felt that the Obama administration “has to stop completely blaming everything on its predecessor.” When Maher asked McCain if she really thought this is what Obama is doing, McCain said “I do to a degree.” A clearly annoyed Begala immediately shook his head and said “not to enough of a degree, I’m sorry not nearly enough.” He then began to explain how President Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for years, to which McCain responded blithely “you know I wasn’t born yet so I wouldn’t know.” Going in for the kill, Begala fired back “I wasn’t born during the French Revolution but I know about it.”

Let’s face some facts here. Meghan McCain is the daughter of a well known Republican senator from Arizona…and that is it. She is not a political pundit and as she displayed, has no understanding of policy or history.

I truly respect what the Republican Party media relations people are trying to do here. Ms. McCain is a young face that has the potential to attract a whole slew of young folks who would normally not give the GOP a second look. However, this is only true if given the right opportunities and this television appearance was not one of them. She was sent out on national television without a moment of preparation from advisors and as a result looked like a deer caught in headlights.

Watching her try and run for cover whenever she got in over her head was more cringe-worthy than a Curb Your Enthusiasm marathon.

I do have to give credit to Ms. McCain for even appearing on the show. But her lack of preparation and the damaging results truly highlights a media relations effort gone the way of the buffalo.

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