I recently learned a new word from my friend Charlee HM: scheming.
But the context in which she used it was her observation of the planning that AJ Martina and I were doing while on the recent Gothic Girl Art Magazine photoshoot with Charlee. And in that context, yes, AJ and I were scheming.
Scheming about our next photoshoot for that magazine. Scheming about the upcoming photoshoot for Steampunk Art Magazine. Scheming about Addiction, the upcoming short film for Null Paradox, our Interactive Rock Opera.
As it turns out: I like her word.
Scheming adds romance and a bit of darkness to what is commonly called strategy. I’ve been doing a lot of scheming. For years. It’s fun and you should try it.
One of the schemes I’ve been working on is how to build a sustainable business from music.
As an artist, writing and performing original music seems to be a polar opposite to what cover/tribute bands do. The writer in me can’t find the creativity in performing someone else’s music. Yet, orchestras have been doing it for centuries as they find creative ways to interpret the works of Bach and Beethoven. What’s the artistic difference between a cover/tribute band and an orchestra? It’s still a big question mark in my mind.
From the business perspective, original and cover/tribute bands face the same issue: how to help people find out about your music so that they can decide if they want to be part of your adventure. But, the cover/tribute band has an advantage: a known product. With my work with the Rebel Rebel Band in California, everyone who attends their show knows in advance that they’re going to hear David Bowie music. The only question: will it be performed well? In the case of the Rebel Rebel Band, the answer is a resounding “yes!”
With an original music project, the comfort of knowing the music in advance is much lower.
In a world with an almost insurmountable amount of noise in the form of the world-wide-web, getting the word out about music without going bankrupt is a true challenge. That’s were scheming comes into play.
My Scheme | short movies and selective performances
Short movies are convenient to watch when posted on YouTube. You don’t have to go anywhere special to watch something posted on YouTube. This reduces the amount of time that I’m asking a person who I’ve never met to invest in an artist they’ve never heard of. It reduces the complexity of what we must achieve and brings it down to the manageable level of: building awareness.
And the way to achieve awareness that has shown success: short films and videos of live concerts. From the comfort of anywhere, anyone can decide if they want to take the next step: seeing the artist in person. It’s a significant step, because you’re asking a person to spend their time and money, but it’s not quite as big of a step as simply saying: “come out and see artist XYZ” because they’ve seen the preview if they’ve checked out your video or short film.
Which brings us to selective performances. Yes, I have a scheme beyond selective performances, but that scheme is presently not financially viable. Instead, a small group of us is spending a lot of time finding cities where there are people who are interested in our performance. From there, we’re building a small tour to road-test this scheme. If it’s successful, we’ll move to our bigger scheme.
As it turns out, Betty Riggs, my co-director in many projects had a similar idea about selective performances called: Listening Parties. So we partnered with Haute Is in Michigan and held a Null Paradox listening party in Michigan on 2018 March 3.
For our listening party, we played acoustic arrangements of our music after which DJ Royal-T played the recorded version. Then we took questions from our audience courtesy of The Bully’s (Eric Scott Baker) cajoling skills.
We learned a lot! Many of the questions were related to what goes on behind-the-scenes of Null Paradox. Ironically, Betty and I are both introverts, so answering these types of questions is a challenge for us. But, we did learn and we’ll get better at responding.
No Social Media scheme?
As I’ve written in a series of business articles, while it’s easy to “like” something on [insert your favorite social media platform], engagement with people who are genuinely interested in being part of your project or business is low. It’s easy to click “like,” but it has little value. So we stopped spending much time on social media with the exception of YouTube. While it’s hard to capture the true feel of a live performance, video does come the closest. And for many groups and companies, YouTube is the best platform.
Why do all of this?
Because scheming is a challenge and it’s fun!