This is the second in a series about non-traditional music programs and opportunities that aren’t offered in schools. This week, I’m featuring tips from Diane Young, rocker mom and founder and producer of Rock Off Main St. at The Center for Arts in Natick, 14 Summer St., Natick, MA 01760.
Diane has more than 14 years experience hosting All-Ages gigs for more than 400 high school bands: “The biggest complaint I hear from young bands is there just aren’t enough places to play. Rock Off Main St. was started as a venue to give young bands a chance to hone their skills while playing to family and friends. We are an All-Ages all the time venue because we know All-Ages gigs are very hard to find.”
The venue accepts inquiries from underage bands via email to Diane at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The event runs once a month on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8 and tickets are available at the door. Learn about upcoming gigs and who’s playing on their Facebook page.
“Having kids of my own who have been in rock bands in Massachusetts and now in LA, I have experienced the frustration bands have when they feel ready to play but can’t find anywhere that will book them,” explained Diane
She’s given us the following advice for bands that are just starting out. Finding and then playing that first gig can be exhilarating, but Diane cautions young people to remember their manners!
Advice From Rock Off Main St. Founder – Diane Young:
- Play for free – First and foremost, the important thing is to play as many gigs as possible wherever you can. Your goal should be to gain experience and develop a fan base. Don’t expect to be paid. Although it’s nice if you are paid, it is never a reason for turning a gig down. Play for free. Remember, your goal is to gain experience and exposure.
- Contact the person who books the shows – Send them a demo of 4 or 5 songs or a press kit. Follow up with an email or phone call to see if your band materials were received.
- Promote the show – Ok, so now your gig is booked. Now what? Although venues do promote their shows, it is really the band’s responsibility to promote the show. Posters, flyers and social networking on Facebook, Twitter, etc. is essential to getting your show promoted. Also, contact the other bands on the lineup to cross-promote with each other.
- Arrive on time – On the day of the show, be sure to arrive on time so you can ask where to park and where to unload your gear.
- Make a good impression – Introduce yourself to the people running the show. Be nice to the staff, help out, and thank everyone. Make a good impression…it will go a long way to ensure future bookings.
- Sound check – Be on time for sound check. Be respectful of the sound engineer and he or she will work harder to make you sound good.
- Be kind to the equipment – Be very respectful of the venue’s equipment such as mics, stands, amps, etc.
- Say thank you – When performing, be sure to thank the other bands on the bill as well as the staff and sound guys at the venue.
- Always play the best show you can – Play the same for two people as you would for a full house. It only takes one person to spoil your reputation or spread the word about how good your band is.
- Connect with your fans – Always have a sign up sheet at your merch table with a mailing list and any flyers for upcoming shows. Encourage them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter.
- Say thank you, again – After the show, be sure to thank the venue, staff and promoter. Follow up with an email later that week to let them know how great it was playing there and how you would love another chance to play again in the future!
From Diane: “Good luck and rock on.”
Diane Young has been a part of TCAN Rock Off Main Street since creating the program in 1999, and helped make it the longest running All-Ages teen rock program in New England. During the same time Diane was associate director of the WBCN High School Battle of the Bands. Diane is a 2012 recipient of the Natick Education Foundation’s Shining Light Award, and is recognized on the Natick High School Wall of Achievement. In addition to her active service as a community volunteer, Diane is the assistant director for Kids Connect in Natick and provides tutoring there for elementary school aged children. A former elementary school teacher in Lexington, Diane has worked for Simmons College since 1992 as a supervisor for student teachers.
(Do you know of a program you would like to see featured? – please comment below and share a link to the program.)