Category Archives: op-ed

The Tuk Ten: Day 5 — Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison (Live)(1968)

Johnny Cash is rightly credited with being the father of outlaw country music. This is not the country music of today, the one that has been taken over by the Carrie Underwoods and the other improbably telegenic performers that populate and dominate the genre. Cash’s music, and the style he created, was the one of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson. Cash exuded the idea that if you weren’t against the system, you were part of the system. 

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The Tuk Ten: Day 3 — District 97, In Vaults (2015)

Some of you reading this may have no idea who District 97 is.  So, for Day Three of The Tuk Ten (rock edition!), let me acquaint you with them. D97 hails from Chicago, Illinois, and have followed an indie rock pathway across the United States and throughout Europe, all on a DIY and crowdfunded model.  This is very much a rock band for modern times. For reasons explained below, In Vaults is definitely in my very own personal Top Ten. 

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The Tuk Ten: Day 2 – The Rollins Band, Weight (1995)

The second album in The Tuk Ten (the rock edition) is Weight by The Rollins Band.  Weight came out in the middle of that band’s career.  It doesn’t have as much of the exposed raw energy of the debut album, End of Silence.  What Weight does have is a mature and hard edge coupled with some fine engineering that runs through the entire album.  

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Creators: Define Success First

tuk0005 copyRecently, I had the good fortune to speak to a room full of young, aspiring entrepreneurs about my professional journey. I hoped to draw some parallels for them to follow, to the extent that those parallels could aid them.

The first part of the session was a 60 minute prepared talk about the initial hurdles that young startups face from a legal standpoint. Following the discussion, there was a question and answer segment, and I was asked the following question by the host:

“How long did it take you to achieve your success?”

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The RIAA Sales Reports Don’t Tell the Whole Story For Independent Musicians

It’s no secret that independent musicians are struggling out there.  There are some out there you have heard of, and some you haven’t heard of, working incredibly hard to get their artistic expressions out in front of audiences.  A lot of times, that grind can start to look pretty bleak and exhausting if you are moving through it without any plan or strategy.

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LVMA19 Week: Love Each Other

Today, the 19th Annual Lehigh Valley Music Awards take place at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. You know the deal by now, right? LVU’s official preshow begins at 3 p.m. on the first floor, with the ceremony kicking off promptly at 4 p.m. inside of the Musikfest Café on the third floor. Songs will be performed. Awards will be won. Good times, hopefully, will be enjoyed by all.

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So, You Weren’t Selected to Play Musikfest…

We are fewer than two weeks until Musikfest gets underway in Bethlehem on Friday, August 4. This is one of the more opinionated times of the year on our music scene; folks will take to social media to express their opinions on the matter in a polarizing manner that is second only, perhaps, to the period surrounding the Lehigh Valley Music Awards every March.

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Sunday Thought Series: Getting More People to Your Shows

Over the past few weeks, Lehigh Valley Underground has been involved in a number of unique events. In that time, I’ve found myself discussing a topic of interest to, I think, anyone who wants to grow within (and beyond) his or her music scene.

The question: How do you get more people to come out to your shows?

There are a few ways to answer this question, in terms of what you can do. I’ll get to those. However, in my time out here on the scene, I have identified something that you definitely should not do, and that is make your shows feel just like everyone else’s.

Please take this constructively. We’re all guilty of it from time to time (myself included). How many Facebook events have you seen where the description reads something like…

“*Artist* will be playing at *venue* from 8-11 p.m. Come hang out, get some drinks, and hear some music.”

Now, think about this: How many other acts, on a given night, are playing nearby from 8-11 p.m.? People can go to plenty of places for drinks and music. What sets your show apart as the place to be that night?

One band with whom we’ve worked closely recently, who does an excellent job of making every show feel special, is VICTIM. They make a point to establish each time out that, when you come to see them play, you aren’t just coming out to hear your friend’s band again. You are coming out for a full-blown, rock and roll experience. And, because they’re a band who thrives on unpredictability, their fans and friends treat each show as a “blink and you’ll miss it” experience. Moreover, everything that they create around a show – fliers, social media posts, and the like – reflects that you’re in for a night unlike any other.

So, how you brand your shows is important. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other tips to ensure that the next room you play will be a bit fuller than the last.

Promote well – Event promotion isn’t a Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ; you don’t just “set it and forget it.” You need to be on your promotional game with a healthy consistency, and with enough lead time for the word to spread about your event. If you only make a couple of social media posts about your show, that’s not enough. Also, if you’re just getting around to promoting something the week it’s happening, you’re too late. Make sure you come up with interesting and creative ways to promote your event – contests, rehearsal videos, and teasers work well – for the duration of the campaign.
Go to others’ shows – As we’ve said since the dawn of (LVU) time, “it takes a scene to build a scene.” Show support for other musicians on your night off, and there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to do the same for you.
Less is more – When you’re just starting out, there’s plenty of value in getting your name out there by playing out as often as possible. However, once you’ve established a local following, focus on building anticipation toward one show per month. Instead of being the band your friends can catch anytime, make each gig feel like a special event. This will also give you time to write, rehearse, and make your repertoire more dynamic; not to mention, it will make playing out even more exciting for you.
Join forces – Become friends with bands from a circle different from your own. Play a show together as a joint effort, and encourage your fans to support everyone on the bill. Everyone involved stands to gain new fans by the end of the night.

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