Clas Ohlson, one of Scandinavia and the UK’s largest chains selling hardware, home, leisure, electrical and multimedia products, investigated today’s market of in-store audio equipment and music content. A collaboration between three companies: Royal Streaming, Tribe of Noise and Streamit resulted in a high-end in-store music solution.
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Text: Tirza de Fockert
If anybody knows how to turn touring into a full time profession, it’s Jeff Campbell. The singer-songwriter has played thousands of gigs all over the United States, ranging from small coffeehouses to the popular talkshow Jimmy Kimmel Live last December. He plays 200 to 250 gigs per year. When he isn’t on the road, he spends his time looking for new performance opportunities and booking the next trip. He shares with us the most important things he has learned, and some vital mistakes he made along the way.
Jeff Campbell performing at Jimmy Kimmel Live
Booking a show and just expecting people to be there is the biggest mistake I made. I used to think: ‘I’ll go there, I’ll play a show, people will be there, and it will be awesome.’ But that’s not what happens. If you don’t know anybody in a city, you have no business playing there. People don’t care about some guy with a guitar from some other city. They already have plenty of those. You have to bring something to the table.
To play successful gigs in new places, you have to be willing to invest a lot of time and energy. Get to know a town, go meet people. Make friends. Go to open mikes. Open for other musicians. Be willing to play for free. Work publicity angles, like getting write ups in newspapers and playing at early morning radio shows. I have done so many of those 7.30 AM talkshows. Do anything you can to give a venue the idea that you take a show seriously. Then when you’ve played your show and you brought a crowd, you say to the venue: ‘It was a success, can we do it again?’ Usually they say yes.
My spare mattress has been a key asset in my life as a touring musician. I recently bought a sofa bed, because my girlfriend got tired of blowing up an air mattress. Three different musicians have slept on it thís week. We have musicians staying with us all the time. And when we come to their town, we sleep on their couches. There is simply no money for a hotel. It’s all about making friends. And those friends help you get new gigs.
Every tour needs at least one show that makes it worthwhile. That’s the anchor gig. It’s either a show that gives you a lot of exposure, or a gig that pays enough money. The next tour I’m doing because my friend Andrew in Seattle said: ‘I have this show in April, do you want to be on the bill with me?’ And I said yes. From that point on I called other venues I have played in the cities I pass when driving to Seattle. So then I’m on the road for one or two weeks, playing up to ten to twelve gigs.
I take every show as an opportunity to win people over, whether it’s 2 million people on Jimmy Kimmel Live or twenty people in a bar. I make sure I put out an air of not expecting to be listened to. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with standing on stage and saying ‘Hey, I’m Jeff Campbell, thank you so much in advance for giving me the opportunity to play some songs, I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if there’s anything that I can do to further enhance your experience, like get you a beer.” Say little things that hopefully make people smile. You have to be aesthetically pleasing to a level that they want to turn around and listen to you.
The first song you play is big. I’ve been in bands with people that say: ‘We gotta come out rocking, guns blazing’. That’s a dumb idea. You have a chance of being too loud for people. They’ll turn around going: ‘What the fuck?’ Also, if you start rocking loud, the sound person hasn’t had the chance to tweak you yet. So I always found it’s better to come out with something that’s open and airy. That brings in the dynamic and gets people’s attention without annoying them. A song that I find works is, ironically, “Shut Your Mouth.”
Getting into people’s subconscious, is an important way to have your music stand out. Tribe of Noise has been very good for that, the in-store channels they got me on. It’s a way for people to hear my music while they’re shopping. And then their subconscious says ‘I really like that, let me find out what that is’. I’ve seen growth in European markets since that started. People are starting to say ‘when are you coming to the UK, when are you coming to The Netherlands? First I think I should go to the people in North Carolina in the US and see them first. But you know, why not do both?
The Tribe of Noise Survival Guide for the DIY Musician: As an independent musician, you have complete control over your own career. But with that freedom comes a daunting set of tasks… read more
Let me start by expressing my respect to all the Tribe artists already participating in our music business: you’re a heck of a musician, we love you for licensing beautiful songs to us and I believe strongly that together we are building a new comfortable highway leading to Rome.
If the destination Rome would be a thought and a vision for me and the team to live by, what would Rome be like in 2014 and beyond?
So, should I mention our participation in a public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules, the 2014 roadmap with leading telecom operator KPN, our geographical expansion to (Latin) America and the Middle East, our stronger than ever partnership with Getty Images, the 2014 technology conferences we will participate in or the growing number of (retail) chains broadcasting your music to millions of consumers?
YES, because you should be proud too. Your music is licensed for commercial use around the world while we do everything in our power to create more revenue opportunities and get you fair deals.
Building highways can be challenging and time-consuming so keep doing what you love most, travel of the beaten path and enjoy the bumpy ride. But remember: keep licensing these beautiful songs to us this year. We will do our utmost to surprise you with some “smooth rides” on the freshly paved parts of our highway to Rome.
Hessel van Oorschot
Chief of Noise @ Tribe of Noise
Many people around the world must have had the same feeling: emptiness, sadness, hope, a strong desire Mandela’s (Hamba kahle Madiba) legacy will unite South Africa and will guide other nations too.
But no one spoke more powerful words than Desmond Tutu: "The one gift that you and I can give to the world, as a fitting memorial, remembrance of Tata, is for us to become what the world had thought impossible," beseeched Tutu. "Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united."
I admire Desmond Tutu and his involvement in many, many humanitarian initiatives. A recent one being Masterpeace.org, an international grassroots movement that inspires everyone around the world to use his or her talent and energy for building peace and togetherness.
As a friend of Masterpeace.org and a believer in “music above fighting” I am honored to invite all of you singer songwriters, composers and performing artists on Tribe of Noise and far beyond to particpate in the unique “My Music MasterPeace” competition. Read more.