Koh Tao Flood Relief Album

Finally after almost a week of incesent downpour the rains have stopped. Now it’s time to clean up the mess. The damage caused by the record breaking falls is tremendous. Roads, homes and businesses washed away. It will take months before the community recovers, and I’ve got a way that you can help from afar.

Click “download” on the link below to make a donation and get some music made right here on Koh Tao.

Some of you may have already read about my unfortunate flood story. On the 6th of January 2017 we had the worst of the storm. 190mm of rain dropped that day. 40mm of that happened in just one hour early in the morning. So much water rushed the island that almost every road became a turbulent river. Choppers, a venue that I regularly perform in, was flooded and unfourtunately my gear was inside. When I arrived the following morning I found my gear floating around in the muddy flood water. I was heart broken. Any musician will know the feeling. My guitar is not only a tool it’s a part of me, it’s a close friend. I felt like I had let it down, left it in the cold wet storm to drown. The image of Hannah pouring water from it’s sound hole will haunt me for years. But the pain didn’t stop there. My loopstation, the tool that has now defined my stage performance and given me the opportunity to travel the world with my craft sitting there in the dirty water, it seemed all hope was lost. What will I do, I can’t afford to replace it and I can’t afford to continue my journey without it. This wasn’t even the extent of the damage. Also amongst my gear was my laptop, full of material I will never see again, my mixing desk, my microphone, a brand new, still in the box MPK midi controller and my guitar tuner.img_0685

As a result I decided I needed to raise some funds to get my tools back.

Back in 2014 I recorded a live album right here on Koh Tao with my good friend Andy V. Two days ago I put that album on my bandcamp page with a “pay what you feel” price for all of those out there that would like to contribute. Over the years I have met some beautiful people while sharing my music across the world and in two days I managed to raise about 10,000 baht. Though it is not enough to cover the damage I incurred financially, it is definitely enough to heal my broken heart and put me back in a positive mind set. I no longer feel overwhelmed, instead I feel excited and ready to face the world and whatever it can throw at me. And though the 10,000 baht is not enough, it is enough to get me started so I can rebuild. Now I would like to do the same thing for my Koh Tao community. From now until the evening of the 12th Jan 2017 all funds raised by this album will be donated to the Koh Tao Rescue team that were so invaluable to the people of the island during the storms, and will continue to be in the clean up. I will be presenting the funds to the team at a benefit concert I will be performing at Banyan Bar on the night of the full moon.

To donate simply click the download button on the link above. Please dig deep, share this article, buy the album and get in touch. Empathy and love are the greatest of all emotions, they bring us together and teach us what it is to be human.

Enjoy the album with lots of love from all of us on Koh Tao. Happy New Year.

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If you are on the island or know anyone that is, please make sure you’re at the benefit gig on Thursday. We will be raising money for 5 Burmese homes that were destroyed in the floods.

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How to Get a Gig on the Road.

Hey gang, I’m writing this article because recently I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me if I can book them some shows. Unfortunately I’m busy running my own career and booking tours for others is something I’ve not got the time for nor interest in right now. That’s not to say I don’t want to help. After all that’s what this is all about. Feel free to write to me if you have questions or need some advice but when it come’s to the nitty gritty you’re going to have to get your own hands dirty.

The point of this article is to accompany my Gig Profiles. There are many types of gigs out there and all require slightly different approaches. I’ll do my best to cover as many bases as possible but this is not the be all and end all for booking shows. For example; I wont be touching on festival applications, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

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It’s best to kick off this process approximately 3 months in advance.

Finding Venues

There are a few different techniques I use to find potential venues in a new city. Firstly, the most obvious Google. Just a simple search, for example when looking for shows in Manchester google “Live music venue Manchester”. Straight away you’ll have a list to start with as well as a map with all of their locations. Go through the list and do a bit of research. Check out their website, their Facebook pages, their trip adviser reviews and whatever else you can find. Single out the venues that are going to suit your sound. There is no harm in sending off an email to all of them but you are going to want to concentrate your efforts on those that seem compatible. No point in trying to get a gig in a hip hop club if what you do is acoustic folk music, and visa versa. This will narrow your list down and by now you’ll probably have one or two favorites. The venues that really stick out.

spiritualOnce you’ve found one or two compatible venues, check out their upcoming shows/events. Usually they will have a different theme for each night. For example Monday night might be acoustic Singer Songwriter night, Tuesday Open Mic, Wednesday Jazz, Thursday rock…..etc. Knowing which night you are applying for is going to help. Also in their upcoming events they will be advertising the upcoming acts. Research the local talent. Find a band or artist that is similar to you and your sound. Get in contact with them, let them know you are coming and that you’re looking for shows. Often local acts are turning down gigs because they are already booked or they are looking for support acts. They may be able to palm you off a gig before you’ve even spoken to a venue. Next check out their upcoming shows. This will give you a list of venues that you already know are compatible. You can do this with more than one band. Before long you’ll start to get a feel for the scene you’d like to be a part of, in a brand new city, that you haven’t even visited yet.

Making Contact with the Venue

So you’ve found your scene and you have a list of potential venues that will suit your sound. Next you need to know how they book their acts. First place to start is the contact page on their website. Most venues will have an email address there for the booker. If they don’t have a website, check their facebook page. If you can’t find a specific music booker email then you’ll need to contact the venue directly. You can either give them a phone call or shoot them an email. Remember you are not trying to sell yourself just yet and more than likely the person that will be receiving you phone call/email will be busy so keep it short, polite and to the point.

e.g. “Hi, my name is Simon Wright. I’m a travelling musician and I’ll be visiting Manchester soon. I was hoping to get a contact for whoever is in charge of booking your live music. Thank you for your time.”

Usually they will give you an email address but sometimes a phone number. I always prefer to communicate via email. Too many times in this industry have people broken promises. If it’s in black and white it’s much more likely they will keep their word. So if they do give you a phone number, make the call, introduce yourself, then ask if you can continue the conversation via email.

Securing a Date

Now is when you want to sell yourself. This email is the most important part of the entire process. Where you will secure your show or forever be looked over by the venue booker. You can make a template for this email which you constantly update and improve, like a resume. Do not however, send the template without personalising it for the venue you are contacting. Here is a short check list for this email.

  1. Let them know that you have researched the venue. It doesn’t have to be much. Something simple like “I’ve checked out the venue, I think my sound will really suit the place.” It shows you are serious and you’ve done your homework.
  2. Always ask for a specific date. For example if they do Funk on Saturdays and that’s your thing then write something like “I think Saturday’s Funk night will suit my show the best. The Saturday I’m hoping you have available is Nov 19th.” This is doing the bookers job for them. All they need to do is simply look in the dairy, if the date is free, slip you in, done. Rather than, deciding which day will suit, then finding the next available free date, making an offer which you reject as you won’t be in town till the following week…. blah, blah.
  3. Mention your engagement with your audiences. The bookers job is to find entertaining acts for their punters. They do not care how many years you studied the bass clarinet in university before moving on to guitar to be more accessible. They just want to know that you’ll entertain the crowd.
  4. Mention your latest and greatest achievements. You want to keep this email short and punchy. Do not rattle off everything you’ve ever done from winning a battle of the bands in high school to supporting Adel before she was famous. Just mention two things, your latest, and your greatest. Myself, I mention my #looptheworld tour on which I have performed over 270 shows in 15 countries (latest) and in 2013 I was nominated Australian Independent Music Awards “Live Artist of the Year” (Greatest)
  5. Include a video of you performing live. The sound and even the performance are not that critical here. What is important is the way the crowd are responding. So pick your video wisely. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s the best performance of your life if the video has one guy in the audience checking his phone. What you want is something that has a big audience that are all glued to the stage and having a good time.
  6. Links! Use them for everything! A link to your Bio, a link to your website, your facebook, instagram, soundcloud, youtube. It’s a way of putting a lot more information in your email with out cluttering it up. If the booker wants to research you more they have the option.
  7. A brief description of what you do. Remember try to keep it short and simple. e.g. “I’m a loop artist. I layer acoustic guitar, beatboxing, base lines and backing vocals to create a full band sound and call on the influences of blues, soul and hip hop.”
  8. Compare your sound to a well know act. This is the easiest way to give the booker an idea of what you do. I have difficulty like any of us when asked the question “So what kind of music do you play?” I could yabber on for hours the intricacies of my sound and performance. However I find it gets the point across a lot quicker if I say something like “My performance has been described as Dub Fx meets Ed Sheeren”.
  9. Let them know how long you are in town. You never know, if they like what you do they might offer a second show or even a residency.
  10. Be confident, professional and most importantly polite. Don’t be unsure of anything. If you are then they will be too. Professional just means good grammar, spelling and language. And polite, we all know what that means but remember to stay polite. Sometimes you will have a back and forth with the booker as they try to decide if they will have you. At times they can come across as rude, cold or unappreciative of your time and effort. They speak to cocky musicians every day. Being rude is a symptom of their job. Don’t take it personally.

 

I like to use this video however sometimes it’s not appropriate. I also play a lot of restaurants and cafes. This is not the vibe they are after. Know your venue.

Getting Paid

Don’t mention money in the first email unless they ask you to. It’s best to let the booker decide if they will have you first. That way you have more of a leg to stand on when it comes to negotiating. If you over quote in your first email, you’ll never hear from them again. If you over quote after they have offered a date, at least they will write back to let you know it was too much and you can go from there. When deciding how much to ask for it’s always a good idea to know what they pay other musicians. One of the bands that you found earlier should be able to help you out with this. Some people, like myself don’t like to give out the details of how much they get paid so put the question more like “How much should I ask for?” Rather than “How much do you get?” Then remember, there is always a little give so quote just a bit higher. Getting paid, particularly internationally can be tricky. Most venues won’t want to do international bank transfer. In the past I’ve had to ask a local friend to use their account. Make sure you sort this out before the show. You don’t want to be left high and dry once it’s all over.

After the Show

The best time to book another show, is straight after a show. Always invite the booker to your show. They do this for a living and don’t turn up to every show they book. But, if you get to play for them live they will feel a lot more connected to you.
Plant seeds, if you are leaving town, let them know when you’ll be back and that you’ll be in contact about another show when you are on your way. If you ended up getting the Tuesday night but you really wanted the Friday, let them know. “I had a great night, next time I’d love it if we could organise a Friday show.” And always write a thank you email. Let the booker know you enjoyed yourself, the staff treated you well, the food was delicious, whatever. Give them pride in their venue and harbor the friendship. These relationships will be your bread and butter.

Best of luck, get out there a get a show. Let me know how you go if if you have any hints and tips that we could add to this piece.

 

Gig Profile: Milk & Madu Canggu, Bali

This will be the ninth installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Milk and Madu is a favourite amongst the locals in Canggu. Not necessarily as a music venue but more for their amazing breakfast menu and delicious pizzas. In fact, music is only a new thing for them, I believe I am their first live musician. Pablo, one of the owners, recently invested in a PA and tells me that he plans on making live music a regular thing.

milk-and-madu-3The setting is perfect for the Sunday afternoon show. A grassy yard with views of the sunset over the surrounding rice paddies. The weekend attracts families so there is always a group of kids playing on the lawn. Last week they even brought in a jumping castle. I love playing for the children. They are fascinated by the music and either jump around dancing with no inhibitions or stand motionless staring wide eyed as I loop up another track. At some point they will all have a go of my tambourine or shaker.

The vibe they are after is obviously family friendly, so keep the big kid words out of it. Also it’s a Sunday session so avoid the pub rock stuff and stick to some feel good acoustic vibes. You are more than welcome to play original music and you’ll find both the punters and the staff are very supportive. It’s predominantly a restaurant so don’t expect a dance floor (from the adults anyways, the kids will be cutting up a rug for sure.) And be respectful with your volume, people are there to enjoy the music but also the company of their friends and family.

The PA is basic, 2 x 15″ Behringer powered speakers and a 12 channel mixing desk with built in effects, but that is all you need. The show is outside so you shouldn’t have any issues with feedback or strange room EQs. They also have 2 x wireless microphones and stands so all you need to bring is your instrument. The gig starts at 5pm and finishes around 8pm. At this stage they are only doing Sundays, but who knows, if it’s successful they may introduce new nights. It’s always worth asking.

As I mentioned in the last Gig Profile for Old Man’s you will need a work permit to gig here in Bali. Immigration take it very seriously and you don’t want to wind up being deported. The process is easy enough. Just contact www.baliexpatservices.com and they will walk you through it. You are going to need to stay in Bali at least a month to earn enough to cover costs but trust me, once you’re here, you are going to want to stay longer anyway. You can back up this gig with weekly shows down at the bigger venues like Old Man’s and Deus and there are a bunch of small live music venues in the area too.milk-and-madu-2

Location: Jl. Raya Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361Gig contact: Pablo Fourcard via Milk and Madu website or Facebook Page
Pay: 1 to 1.5 million IDR
Gig season: All year round. High season is during the months of July and August, during Easter Holidays, and Christmas / New Year (December till 1st week of January). This is the time Bali is the busiest. However, for many reasons, best time to come to Bali is April, May, June and September, just before and just after high season.
Max Capacity: Approx 200
In-house PA, no soundman.
Milk and Madu links: Facebook, Instagram, Website

Gig Profile: Old Man’s Canggu, Bali

This will be the eighth installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Old Man’s is a well known drinking hole in Canggu. A place to be seen and the place to go on a Wednesday night. There is plenty of bar space and large beer garden looking out over Batu Balong surf break. Canggu is known for being a little more expensive than other parts of the island but you can still get a decent meal for less than 80k IDR ($8 AUD). Bintang, Indonesia’s most popular local brew will set you back 25k IDR ($2.50 AUD), which is pretty typical in the area. Happy hour is 5-6pm where drinks are two for one.

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The gig itself starts at 7pm on Thursday nights, which is known as the acoustic night. You’ll share the show with a DJ who plays from 6pm, then again in your break and after you finish. You’re expected to play 2 x 1 hour sets with a  hour break in between. You’ll be provided with an in house sound man who will set up and run the PA for you. He is a very friendly fellow and will be happy to answer questions and help out however he can. If you are touring with a band then you’ll want to ask for the Friday night. The gig is slightly later and always has a great turn out.

The PA is made up of 2 x 15″ FOH speakers as well as a couple of subs and a 15″ foldback speaker. Your under a roof but it is an outdoor venue so sound issues should be minimal. They also don’t seem to have sound limits so you can turn it up which is always nice. Additional to the main PA the signal will be sent through the in-house system with small speakers situated through out the establishment meaning you can be heard everywhere. Mic’s and stands are also provided so just bring your instrument.

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Wednesdays at Old Man’s is always a party!

The clientele are young surfers from all over the world but there is definitely a higher percentage of Australians. Ripped and tanned, half naked young lads and ladies fresh off the beach fill the bar from sunset onward. They are more than keen to hear some live tunes and I found them to be very supportive and attentive. If you keep the second set up beat you’ll be sure to get a dance floor vibing. I was even encouraged to play some more original music which is always a pleasure.

To perform in Indo you are going to need a work permit. They take it very seriously and if you are seen to be breaking the rules you’ll not only get yourself in trouble but the bar as well. Not to worry though, securing the paperwork is very simple and can be done after arrival if you don’t come prepared. I got mine sorted at www.BaliExpatServices.com It only took one quick visit and a one off payment. Cost depends on how long you are staying and it’s best to have as many gigs booked as possible before getting it done as they like to know where and when you’ll be playing. That’s not to say you can’t pick up extra shows on the side.

I suggest staying for at least a month to give yourself time to cover the costs of visa, flights and living. If you back this up with a few other gigs in the area, you can live quite comfortably in island paradise. The longer you stay, the more likely you can save some coin. I rent a scooter for transport which will set you back about 50-60k a day or if you rent it monthly about 40k a day (just over 1 million IDR a month or $100 AUD). Alternatively, if your not so comfortable on a bike, you can employ a driver for a little more money that will pick you up by request. Accommodation varies but I got a lovely room with hot water, air con and wifi for 3.5 million ($350 AUD) per month at a place called Janur  Kuning. About a five minute ride from Old Man’s.

Location: Gig contact: Sean Cosgrove Via Old Man’s Facebook or his personal profile
Pay: 1 million IDR (Solo) 3–4 Million IDR (Band)
Gig season: All year round (high season Jan-Feb and July)
Max Capacity: Approx 1000
In-house PA and soundman.

Australian Musicians: “Get a Real Job!”

Australia, you need to sort out your juvenile attitude towards the arts. Actually no, it’s not juvenile, children have an insightful view of art and expression. Australia, you need to stop with this “get a real job” rhetoric and start recognising the cultural and financial enrichment the arts bring to all of our lives.

Since first venturing across the seas I’ve noticed that my beloved home country is a long way behind when it comes to appreciating what the creatives give us. Just last week the Australian federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, dismissed an entire industry as a “lifestyle choice” after announcing almost 60 diplomas in the arts will no longer be eligible for student loans. Since the Abbott Government in 2014 we have already had $204.8 million dollars cut from the arts budget. Just today I read a deplorable article in the Advocate by Elanor Watt –  Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians in which she argues that if you are passionate enough you should take any opportunity offered to you “because we have all seen the movies, anything can happen.”… urgh. There is an attitude in Australia that working in the arts is a cop out. A job for pot smoking couch potatoes, or worse, not even a “real job” at all.

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Unfortunately this comes as no surprise to me. I first met with this attitude in my youth. Fresh out of home and learning to earn a living for my self I met with hard times. Unemployment benefits were the closest thing I have ever received to assistance in developing my trade, and thank god they were there. Newstart gave me time to find my feet. Time and time again I was asked by Centerlink “what is your profession?” and time and time again I was told “that’s not a real job”. Simple recognition would have made the progression of my career a lot less stressful and possibly a lot quicker. Back then, though it was not enough, I was making more from playing music than anything else. Now, music is not only how I travel the world but it is also how I pay my taxes.

Thanks to national research at the University of Tasmania we now know that the live music sector contributed a whopping $15.7 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2014 with $3 worth of benefit to the community for every $1 invested. Even more than the footy. These figures are no secret, yet still it doesn’t take much effort to find the typical attitude on public forums of “Why should my tax dollars pay for your hobby?” At face value it may seem like a legitimate question, however dig a little deeper and it’s easy to see that the arts are paying more than their fair share in tax revenue and economic stimulation. Unlike the fossil fuel industry, for example, this is achieved in most part with little or no government assistance.

“Our research shows that for every dollar spent on live music, three dollars of benefit is returned to the wider community. This is a significant, and unrecognised, contribution that includes the dollars that flow to the national economy as well as the ways experiencing live music enriches people’s lives.” – Dr. Dave Carter, Lecturer in Music Technology at University of Tasmania.

One of the first things you notice when travelling through Europe is their pride of culture. I’m not talking about nationalism or patriotism, though they do come into it. I’m talking about their love of food, music, language and heritage. It’s a beautiful thing. Dedicating ones life to the arts is a virtue celebrated by all. I see the same across Asia. I’m yet to visit the Americas or Africa but from my research into future destinations, I keep seeing the same thing. The arts define heritage and heritage defines us.

Maybe it is Australia’s distance from the rest of humanity. We sit alone at the bottom of the world. A nation barely 200 years old, with a tendency to ignore the rich depth of art history laid out by our indigenous peoples. Possibly for the fear of admitting the cultural genocide committed by our forefathers, or maybe because white Australia doesn’t feel as if this is their heritage to be proud of. Maybe it’s a symptom of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome, where we hack at the things we admire most. Maybe we just haven’t properly discussed the situation yet.

In any case, music is my love, music is my life and music is my profession!

*UPDATE
It’s recently come to my attention that Elanor Watt, the author of the article “Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians” mentioned in the above blog post works for Fairfax media group. The same group that asked Sydney based reggae band black bird hum to play for free at Fairfax Media owned Noodle Market. Strong arm corporate bullying! Shame on you Elanor. I wonder if this young journalist is aware that she is a pawn of this evil media manipulation. I also wonder if she avoided mentioning Black Bird Hum by name in her article as that would be free promotion, in which case she is promoting herself off the back of the musicians she criticized for not taking an “exposure” gig.

“She’s always ahead of me, I’m not too far behind. We’re like peas in a pod, we’re two of a kind. Music this lucid partner of mine.”

P.S to all you creatives out there, click here to check out some inspirational words on the topic from my man Tony “Jack The Bear” Mantz.

Top 10 #looptheworld Shows So Far

This was a difficult list to compile. Almost every show I have played since the #looptheworld adventure began has been memorable for one reason or another. Special mention has to go to Choppers Bar, Koh Tao. Those hot, sweaty nights with the Koh Tao Pub Crawl made up a huge amount of the memories that the tour has brought me so far. Every night at Choppers was another crazy party. So too were all of my performances at Harmony, Ios. However, this here list is about those single shows that stood out. The shows that warmed my heart and kept me on a high for days after getting off stage. Those shows that reward me more than financial gain. The shows I’ll remember long after my career is over. The shows I’ll look back on and smile.

No. 10

Surfers Paradise Live Festival May 2015

A festival stage definitely helps to make the top 10 list. A big crowd, a great PA, a professional sound man, the whole kit and caboodle. This was also the last show before we took #looptheworld international. On a more personal note; Surfers Paradise Live Festival was special because my family was there. My mum, my little sister Megan and my adorable little nephew Malakai. It was also the first time my newborn nephew had left the house since his birth. I’m very proud of this fact. It will be a story I tell him when he’s older. I hope one day he takes up the musical adventure that has brought me so much satisfaction.

Show No.9 >

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Top 10 #looptheworld Shows So Far

No. 9

Lotus Bar Ios Farewell Show August 2015

Ios was a big part of the story so far. For two months I played a show every night on Ios at a restaurant called Harmony. Over that time I made countless new friends and came to feel very close with my Ios family. I didn’t start playing at Lotus bar until close to the end of my stay there. I chose to have the Ios farewell show at Lotus Bar over Harmony as it was somewhere different after so many nights at Harmony but also because there was more space for a dance floor. I was nervous that I wouldn’t pull the crowd I hoped for for a successful farewell party. I shouldn’t have been. Everyone that had made an impression on me on that crazy little island made it down and made me feel so very loved and appreciated. I miss those crazy cats.

< Show No.10    |    Show No.8 >

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