Category Archives: Sunday Thought Series

Sunday Thought Series: Getting More People to Your Shows

Over the past few weeks, Lehigh Valley Underground has been involved in a number of unique events. In that time, I’ve found myself discussing a topic of interest to, I think, anyone who wants to grow within (and beyond) his or her music scene.

The question: How do you get more people to come out to your shows?

There are a few ways to answer this question, in terms of what you can do. I’ll get to those. However, in my time out here on the scene, I have identified something that you definitely should not do, and that is make your shows feel just like everyone else’s.

Please take this constructively. We’re all guilty of it from time to time (myself included). How many Facebook events have you seen where the description reads something like…

“*Artist* will be playing at *venue* from 8-11 p.m. Come hang out, get some drinks, and hear some music.”

Now, think about this: How many other acts, on a given night, are playing nearby from 8-11 p.m.? People can go to plenty of places for drinks and music. What sets your show apart as the place to be that night?

One band with whom we’ve worked closely recently, who does an excellent job of making every show feel special, is VICTIM. They make a point to establish each time out that, when you come to see them play, you aren’t just coming out to hear your friend’s band again. You are coming out for a full-blown, rock and roll experience. And, because they’re a band who thrives on unpredictability, their fans and friends treat each show as a “blink and you’ll miss it” experience. Moreover, everything that they create around a show – fliers, social media posts, and the like – reflects that you’re in for a night unlike any other.

So, how you brand your shows is important. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other tips to ensure that the next room you play will be a bit fuller than the last.

Promote well – Event promotion isn’t a Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ; you don’t just “set it and forget it.” You need to be on your promotional game with a healthy consistency, and with enough lead time for the word to spread about your event. If you only make a couple of social media posts about your show, that’s not enough. Also, if you’re just getting around to promoting something the week it’s happening, you’re too late. Make sure you come up with interesting and creative ways to promote your event – contests, rehearsal videos, and teasers work well – for the duration of the campaign.
Go to others’ shows – As we’ve said since the dawn of (LVU) time, “it takes a scene to build a scene.” Show support for other musicians on your night off, and there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to do the same for you.
Less is more – When you’re just starting out, there’s plenty of value in getting your name out there by playing out as often as possible. However, once you’ve established a local following, focus on building anticipation toward one show per month. Instead of being the band your friends can catch anytime, make each gig feel like a special event. This will also give you time to write, rehearse, and make your repertoire more dynamic; not to mention, it will make playing out even more exciting for you.
Join forces – Become friends with bands from a circle different from your own. Play a show together as a joint effort, and encourage your fans to support everyone on the bill. Everyone involved stands to gain new fans by the end of the night.

Creative Confidential Offers Words of Wisdom for 2017

If you’ve hung around Lehigh Valley Underground long enough, you’re certainly familiar with our good friend Bryan Tuk. Bryan is the musician, social entrepreneur, and attorney behind Allentown JazzFest and the TLO Live webinar series.

Bryan also hosts Creative Confidential, a podcast for the arts which just wrapped up its first year in 2016. A few days ago, Bryan released a special episode, during which he offered some closing remarks from the old year, and some words to live by — especially if you’re a creative professional — about building your future, and time, and life.

With the New Year a popular time for self-reflection and hope for what’s ahead, we provide you, People of the Underground, with some wise words from someone fighting many of the same battles that we are, every single day. Enjoy!

Here’s How LVU Will Support the Scene in ’17

Happy New Year! As we approach 2017 with a sense of vigor and excitement, we want to take our support of the music scene and surrounding community to the next level. Of course, we still plan to do the things you’ve come to expect from Lehigh Valley Underground, but there are new and exciting opportunities to do it bigger and better than ever before.

As we’ve reflected on what we’ve done to this point, we’ve come up with some ways to stay true to the whole “New Year, New Me” thing. Without further ado, here are our New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Put out even more of the good stuff: In 2016, Lehigh Valley Underground was good for about 450 posts, which certainly accounts for a lot of words, photos, and videos. The crazy thing? There’s still so much more we can cover. We’ll be combing the scene early and often to give you even more fresh, daily content in the coming year. We’re shooting for at least two posts per day in 2017, which means you can expect to hear and see something new about 730 times throughout the year.
  • Add voices to the conversation: To help us complete the previous goal, we want to hear from more of the people on our music scene. It’s our mission to welcome new contributors into the fold in 2017, and we want to invite writers, photographers, and local music enthusiasts to share their passions with the LVU audience. Contact us here if you want to join the team!
  • Let’s put on a show: In 2016, we sponsored a couple of great nights of live music. We want to do more of that this year, and that includes putting on a showcase (or several) ourselves. The great part about this goal is that we’re already working on the first one, and there stands an excellent chance that you’ll be hearing more about it very, very soon…
  • Work with our community: Lehigh Valley Underground wants to be a better community partner this year. This includes partnering with local organizations to support their causes, as well as helping more local businesses spread the word about what they’re up to. Again, some of these projects are already in the works, and we hope to share them with you all soon. Meanwhile, if you want to work with us in any capacity, be sure to reach out.

That seems like a good starting point to us, and it gives us something to strive for throughout the year (and look back upon, when it comes time for year-end reflection). Hold us to these resolutions, and please, let us know some of yours in the comments!

Sunday Thought Series: How to Keep Building Your Brand, Even in Hectic Times

In my world, October never, ever fails to be a ridiculously busy month.

For starters, there are two October birthdays – my girlfriend and my niece – that I wouldn’t dare miss in any given year. In each of the past three years, I’ve had at least one October wedding to attend, and I like to pick up extra hours at my part-time gig at ArtsQuest before the winter doldrums set in. Add all of that together with a full-time job, and it can make having time for anything else – like, say, effectively building a growing local music news source – quite challenging.

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Sunday Thought Series: Six Months

I find it hard to believe that tomorrow marks six months since the official launch of Lehigh Valley Underground. I say that, not necessarily because time has flown, but because doing this has since become so ingrained in my daily life, that I could swear I’ve been doing it for years.

Those six months started humbly enough. I was just starting to become immersed in the local music scene in our region, and I remember actively having to go out and poke around for something – anything – that would qualify as local, music-related, and newsworthy. As time went on – namely, after one particular piece in March that blew this thing wide open – I found myself developing relationships with the folks who make this scene what it is. I found myself actively on the scene, sometimes multiple nights a week, and loving every minute of it.

Since then, we’ve covered festivals. We’ve developed relationships with publications like The Valley Ledger. We’ve covered major shows at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center and Musikfest Café, while never losing our Underground roots. We’ve reviewed albums, delivered news, recorded podcasts, and have done it all with the intention of #BuildingBetter across our region for local musicians.

There’s no way of telling what the next six months will hold. However, I believe (and know on good authority, in some cases) that we’re built for big things leading up to our first birthday. Lehigh Valley Underground will continue to add an important voice – your voice – to the musical landscape, and we will create more opportunities than ever for folks like us who refuse to give up on their dreams and passions.

Thank you for joining the ride so far. It’s only just beginning.

#GoUnderground

Sunday Thought Series: Take a Deep Breath

We’re in the middle of a transformative summer for Lehigh Valley Underground, and believe me when I say this: we’re just getting warmed up.

However, everyone needs a weekend to catch a breath once in a while. With fired-up grills and cold drinks in my future over the next couple days, this is that weekend.

In a recent conversation with dear friend and nationally-touring country artist John Scargall, we talked about the value of downtime. Time with friends and family gives you balance and perspective, as it reminds you why you work so hard. Many of us are trying to create a better life so we can enjoy more of it. That isn’t to say that we don’t enjoy what we do – for the record, I freakin’ love LVU – but success gives us more time to be present in our personal lives, which is always a good thing.

Traveling from place to place, like I’ll be doing throughout New Jersey today and tomorrow, also gives us time to think. We are able to take a step back, clear our thoughts, and come up with the next piece of the puzzle. It allows us to give a little more thought to what’s coming up, and how we can keep #BuildingBetter through it all.

Needless to say, there’s much on the horizon for us this summer. Of course, we have Musikfest around the corner next month. Before that, though, we have Easton Heritage Day just next weekend. In between, there will be plenty of shows, songs, reviews, and maybe even an announcement or two that I’m having a hard time keeping to myself… J

But… I’ll #GoUnderground again on Tuesday. For now, some yard games, barbecue, and fireworks are going to take me back to a simpler time, and give me the deep breath I need before I charge full steam ahead into the rest of this amazing summer.

Take some time out for yourself this weekend, too. Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

P.S.: This one reminds me of back in the day. Don’t judge me. More importantly, share a song that reminds you of the golden summers of your youth.

Sunday Thought Series: We’ve Had Ourselves a Month

May has been so busy and exciting that it’s hard to believe that we were in the middle of our first media partnership with Allentown JazzFest only a few weeks ago. We started the month with Scott Tixier in Emmaus, and the festival would continue during the month’s opening week with performances from Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Lucy Woodward and many more.

The fun continued all month long. We’ve seen debuts, international rising stars, industry veterans, and long-time local favorites. We successfully closed the return season – and first on LVU – of our official podcast, The Quinn Spinn, with great hope for the future. And, of course, we met more great people and had insightful conversations that will surely help us all work toward the betterment of our original music community in the months and years ahead.

Through it all, there’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing that so many people in our music community have been positively impacted by Lehigh Valley Underground, both throughout this month and dating back to January. The fact that people are hearing about us on their own – and not just from my incessant, daily social media posts – means that we’ve strengthened the music scene, and that we can only get better from here together.

It should be an amazing summer. A lot of big things are beginning to take shape. Although I can’t talk about them yet, please know that May was just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more #BuildingBetter where this came from.

Sunday Thought Series: Face-to-Face

I lived in rural New Jersey for the majority of The Quinn Spinn’s previous run. As a direct result, I often found it difficult to get out on the scene on a regular basis. Heading to New York was always an all-day, expensive affair, and constantly being cash-strapped at the time always made it much more difficult. I loved what was going on in Philly, but it was two hours away, and even if I had known about the wealth of talent in my “second home” of the Lehigh Valley, it was still an hour drive at the time.

I knew the whole time that I needed to be out there. I needed to be much more than a talking head behind a computer (or phone, or tablet) screen, and I needed to get out, support local music, and build relationships with the same artists I’d play on our shows every week. Oddly enough, the best way in this digital age to be a resource and build a brand as an indie music authority is to meet people face-to-face. Who would have thought?

I’ve seen this in action ever since moving back out here (a year ago today), and then by launching Lehigh Valley Underground in January. I’ve gone out on the scene more than I’ve ever had the opportunity before.

Getting to at least once show per week is my rule. As a result, I’ve had the chance to meet great people and talented artists whom I now call friends. I’ve had some really cool opportunities – Allentown JazzFest comes to mind – which have helped build the profile of LVU as an emerging player in our local music scene. I would like to think that bodes well for everyone.

Through it all, I just want to express my gratitude for being able to work with all of you to this point. For as busy as life gets, I now know I can count on going out, snapping some photos, and hanging out with some talented folks, to the point where doing so has become ingrained in my weekly routine.

It’s been a blast so far, and I look forward to discovering where the road leads us next.

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