Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is your act not getting booked? Try this...

Terry Fator got hot by way of national exposure. He has a lot of talent, but it takes more than talent. Terry got lucky with a hot reality TV contest that just happens to feature entertainment.

Jeff Dunham took a different approach. He exploited youtube (or rather let youtube do the exploiting) to build a huge fan base among young people. (That's not all he did, but it helps make the point.)

And the point is: Two practitioners of a relatively minor and obsolete entertainment artform used modern technology with its own built-in fanbase to build themselves a huge constituency. They had to do it without being paid for it, but it really worked for them.

Here's my idea. Over the past several months I watched the popularity of Karaoke grow. A group of my friends gathers every Wednesday evening at an Applebee's. About a year ago they introduced Karaoke on Wednesday nights. (We're not there for the Karaoke. We were there first.) At first it seemed to be a fizzle. But as time went by, the crowds of young people grew. Now, it's wall-to-wall young adults every Wednesday night cheering on whomever has the cajones to take the mic and sing off key and out of meter.

There it is. A built-in high-energy audience (fully loosened up by beer and looking for a good time) and a professional sound system. Cut a deal with a Karaoke operator. Ask for 5 minutes (which is the length of the average singing participant's performance) to take the mic.

Introduce yourself with heavy references to Jeff Dunham and Achmed. Virtually everyone there knows who Jeff is. Associate yourself with what Jeff does in their eyes. (Hey, why not? Everyone else there associates themselves with Elvis and Madonna.) Do a killer five minutes with your funniest, most off-the-wall figure. Finish with you and the figure singing (badly or not, it doesn't matter; they don't know the difference) a tune along with the Karaoke machine.

Make sure everyone there knows your name.

Hit every Karaoke bar in town. You'll see a lot of the same people in the audiences. It's a culture. If you are good, they will start yelling out your punch lines.

Build a following of young people who are old enough to drink and young enough to want to go out at night. And young enough to have parents they can tell about you.

Get the media to cover it if you can. Get someone to record it wih their cellphone for your next youtube upload. The grainier the better.

When everyone in town knows who you are, your more traditional marketing efforts should begin to work, and the gigs should start piling up.

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