Is It All Worth It?

It seems the challenges involved in playing and hosting live music, performance and art are almost limitless. Simply getting a venue to host regular events that draw a crowd is hard enough, and opportunities to actually make some cash are fewer and further between. A video Nicole posted paints a picture of how dire the situation is or artists of all types, yet more and more emerge every year, hoping to one day make it big, or even be that 1 in 50 Australian artists who earns a reasonable amount of money out of their creative work.

Let me direct you to a video clip by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The people interviewed at the start all moved to LA (an even more cut-throat, competitive world than Sydney) in the hope of becoming a star. On girl said she thought after 6 months to a year she was guaranteed to crack the market. She’d been there 6 years. Another bloke moved to LA in the early ‘90s in the hope of forming a band. The film clip was made in 2006. Actually making somewhere is about as easy as winning the lottery, but nevertheless, thousands and thousands of people follow suit every year.

These overwhelming odds seem to beg the question: Is it all worth it?

The final guy interviewed is a young, gangly nervous looking kid who says “I want to play music for my life. It’s what I want to do”. Have you ever hear an accountant or an engineer say that about their work? There’s a saying that The earth without art is just ‘eh’ and I couldn’t agree more. Becoming a successful artist of any kind isn’t meant to be easy. It takes years and years to master an instrument or a dance style or to form your own style of painting, and the rewards are very low. But nonetheless, people choose this path because of the enormous personal gratification that comes with expressing your creativity and presenting to people what you have worked on for so long. NightFusion does not want opportunities for this expression to die out because we are passionate about art and we want to do something that may just change people’s attitudes towards it.

Is it all worth it? Absolutely.

/by J.G

Promotion Strategy

So how is NightFusion going to be promoted? Clearly a direct dialogue with artists needs to be opened very quickly, and the Facebook page can then be used to quickly share the event between art communities. The page will be constantly updated with information regarding each of the different performers, as well as announcements regarding developments in the planning of the event. This constant updating of social media helps develop and maintain a ‘buzz’ around the event, and keep it at the forefront of people’s minds, with the aim that word will quickly spread amongst artistic groups who are looking for a creative outlet and look to get involved. 

What we are hoping to establish even before the first event has happened is communication between different groups who are looking to perform or display work at the events and encourage a collaborative theme early in the process. This will lead to the events becoming more coherent, as separate acts integrate with one another, for example a dance troupe or Vj working with a musician to create a multimedia piece. 

What has noticeably been successful in engaging audiences via social media is a constant flow of merely entertaining material to Facebook or Twitter. This is a very simple way of drawing attention to the page without becoming annoying or appearing attention-seeking, and following Kanter’s rule of user generated content, for every person that likes or shares something funny that is posted, 10 people are going to follow the link to the page. With any  luck, a few of those people will like the idea and maybe 1 or 2 may come to the actual event. Just because I posted a meme on Facebook. 

/by J.G

Keeping Up With The Times

Many venues have attempted to start regular events targeting a particular audience, for example Screaming Sundays, aimed at the hard rock/metal crowd and the Jägermeister Wednesdays, both at the Annandale. Events such as these have often either quickly fizzled out, or continued to stumble along without drawing much attention to the venue or performers. An exception to this is the Oxford Street scene, which has successfully established itself through regular events such as Hot Damn! and SFX, not to mention setting up successful venues such as the Oxford Art Factory, which is often blamed by more fringe venues for their loss in clientele.

The reason the Oxford Street venues have succeeded where venues such as the Sando and Annandale have failed is that they have successfully cultivated a community of people who hang out there every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. It seems the OAF has an almost permanent installation of scantily clad hipster kids chain smoking out the front, no matter the weather, and since its humble beginnings in 2006, Hot Damn! has almost single-handedly turned Indie, Punk and Emo and Scene culture from niche to mainstream.

Social media has undoubtedly played a massive role in this revolution, and venues like the Sando and the Annandale have completely missed the boat, if their Facebook pages are anything to go by. The Sando, which has been around since the late ’90’s has 2.5 thousand likes. Its cover picture is a shot of a bunch of old fat dudes smashing away on stage and its page is filled with shitty posters begging people to come to the ‘Save Our Sando’ rally, and that’s about it. The rally happened a month ago. If social media is the key way people find out about events these days, I’m not surprised no one turns up to gigs there. Compare this to Hot Damn!’s page. Despite only having been around for 6 years, they have 25,000 likes, and their page is filled with info about upcoming gigs and events, promotions for various artists that have performed there in the past/are popular in that scene, as well as all manner of random entertaining posts and pictures.

What has enabled these venues to create and engage with their community is that they have specifically focused on a target audience – young, internet savvy people looking to have a good time, and subtly but constantly barraged them with with things that are guaranteed to appeal to them – humour, cool YouTube videos, promotions of epic sounding nights with drinks going for a dime a dozen. It all seems totally straightforward, but the ‘traditional’ venues have completely neglected this vital aspect of marketing, favouring the ‘look, we’ve got lots and lots and lots of bands playing all the fucking time, you should come’ approach. This, quite clearly, does not cut it.

/by J.G

Making This Happen

The Lansdowne on the corner of City Rd and Broadway has its shit sorted. It’s got a cracking location that’s convenient for anyone living inner city, west, or east, working anywhere in the city, or going to either USyd or UTS, both of which are just down the road. It’s got cheap beer, very cheap food ($7 steaks or something ridiculous), always free entry, pool tables, decent lighting, a nice upstairs area to chill out, and best of all, regular live music. In fact its monday night jams are probably one of the best jam nights in Sydney. How can the hotel afford all this? By being constantly full of people dancing the night away to sweet reggae, funk and jazz grooves on mondays, or headbanging on fridays (metal night), as well as other regular gigs throughout the week. How is it always full of people? Well, it’s super convenient, for locals, Uni students and workers, has cheap food and beer, free entry, live…

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Just as many venues have fallen into the vicious cycle of not pulling a decent crowds, therefor needing to charge more for entry and drinks, and expect unreasonable things of artists performing there, who get pissed off and badmouth the venue and so on and so forth, there are many others that have found a happy medium in ensuring punters have a cracking night, and return regularly, allowing both the venue and the artists performing there have considerably more freedom and meaning they are under far less pressure financially.  

So what is the Lansdowne doing that’s so special?

Absolutely nothing.

Let’s use Kensington Bowling club as an example venue (they are actually down for this, check out our twitter):

Location: While it isn’t quite in the dead centre of just about everything in Sydney like the Lansdowne is, Kenzo Bowls isn’t doing too badly for itself. Although it is in a back street, this particular backstreet is 2 minute’s walk from Anzac Parade, where buses to and from just about anywhere in Sydney run regularly, and all night. It is also 2 minutes walk from UNSW, home to approximately 40,000 students.

Food and Drinks: There is no regular bistro at the bowling club, but at special events they have a free BBQ. It doesn’t even need to be free. Charge $2 a snag and chuck in a beer deal for an extra $2 and starving uni kids will be queuing around the corner.

Pool Tables: Yeah, should probably get some

Different areas to party hard or chill: It’s got large function area that can easily hold a band and a serious dance floor, as well as plenty of tables and seating around the edge. Additionally, there is a large bowling green on one side of the club, which hosts barefoot bowling and is perfect for relaxing around during the warmer months. The other side has mini football pitches. Either of these could be turned into an outside performance area.

Regular live music: Well, we’re working on that. My band has played there for the very successful fundraiser event for St Vincent de Paul, and the place went off.

So why is the venue struggling? what’s stopping it from taking off as a live music house and a regular haunt for the thousands of people who can access it so easily? As far as I can see, it needs a kickstart, a regular event which draws a regular crowd that will expand quickly and draw in a greater community for which the venue and the events it hosts can be a focal point.

I wonder what kind of event could possibly make that happen….

/by J.G

An insightful short video about the reality of careers in the arts in Australia.
/ reblog by N.E

Enhance Creativity in Australia

Australian artists earn less than the general population and yet the number of artists does not fall.

Ever wonder about how many artists there are in Australia? What is the biggest group of artists? How much do artists earn? What challenges do Australian artists face?

Watch the insightful video below to get your answers!

Presented by the Australia Council for the Arts:

Remember:

Persistence and passion are key to a successful artistic career!

 

 

 

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Who gets to play?

“The only thing that I could suggest is making sure that everything fits the same kind of genre, like you couldn’t imagine a heavy metal act playing whilst there are landscape paintings hung everywhere with comedy next door”. This comment from WangyJosh on a previous post I made does raise a very important issue regarding the structure of our events. The diverse nature of the performances means that it would be discriminatory to exclude a particular type of music because we don’t think it would ‘fit’. The whole point of scheduling multiple simultaneous performances is that if someone doesn’t like a particular act, they can check out something else in the meantime. In contrast to WangyJosh’s statement, it would actually make sense to have something totally different happening at the same time, to use his example, a stand-up act on during a metal performance.  

Additionally, we hope that people attending the events will keep an open mind to performance and art styles that they normally wouldn’t say are their cup of tea. I have discovered some amazing bands completely by accident when they happened to be playing at a venue I was at, and I have become a fan following fantastic live performances, even if they haven’t played the kind of music I typically like. I also recently joined a band after seeing them play live. Following a kickass show, I made friends with their guitarist and was eventually invited to join. This is the kind of collaboration NightFusion aims to inspire through providing an openly social performance space.

However, NightFusion will not be an opportunity for bands to just rock up and have a free rehearsal, something I have seen happen when bands haven’t even bothered to bring people, and know they won’t be charged for not filling the room. Artists wanting to perform at NightFusion would be thoroughly vetted, and chosen based on skill and entertainment capacity (not genre). While bringing a crowd is not necessary, we trust that artists will promote the events themselves, as it is in their interests to gain as much exposure as possible. This relates very closely with our ideal of collaboration between artists and venues – for an event to be successful, it is vital for all participants to work together.

/by J.G

Sometimes, a facelift really is the answer

It’s possible that as you start to get older, you may begin to notice objects on your body bungee jumping from their original positions. The thought of a procedure such as a face-lift begins to seem more attractive. That however, is a conversation for another time and place. What I’m actually referring to here are run down live performance venues in Sydney. Similarly, perhaps all they need is a facelift to boost their popularity and get them back on their feet again.

This post has been inspired by an interesting interview on the GIGS blog where Anthony Cavallaro, the manager of ‘AC Presents’ was asked whether he had any solutions to encourage people to attend more gigs in Sydney. Responding with an idea that is very much in line with my views, he explained that we are in an age where everything must be aesthetically pleasing to both the eye and ear in order to please the majority of people. Therefore, one way to encourage more people to attend local live gigs would be by giving the older venues a facelift in order to attract modern day punters. Mr. Cavallaro makes a very good point, which I believe should be seriously considered by the more run down venues in Sydney. In reality, there is so much competition today for live entertainment destinations that a facelift is the only chance these run down venues will have of getting back in the game and competing with the newer venues.

Although I do visit older venues to support local talent, when reflecting on the venues that I prefer going to for live entertainment, the places on the top of my list all seem to have one thing in common. They are all beautifully styled and decorated on the inside, creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere that really does lead me to favor them over the older run down venues. Even though some of the older venues host bands that may appeal more to my musical taste, strangely enough, I still do prefer spending an evening out at a stylish venue that is more often than not hosting live music that I prefer less. I am certain that I’m not the only person who has this view and that is why I believe refurbishing some of the older struggling live music venues would be a great start in getting bigger crowds to their gigs.

/by N.E