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I Wear* Experiment (Estonian) live by Karmo Koppel.JPG
26Nov
5 Reasons why Estonian band I Wear* Experiment is popular in Asia
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Let's get rid of some numbers first:

Shows in Asia
Best Ranking in Asian SNS (Facebook)
Asian countries visited

Estonian band I Wear* Experiment's situation in January 2016

  • Doing OK in the Baltic – I saw a few video clips with good numbers in terms of views. It seems the band had a decent fanbase in that region.
  • About to release their Patience Album (April 2016 at the Tallinn Music Week)
  • Relatively unknown in the rest of Europe
  • Get some interest from prestigious radio in US and among the press.
  • Totally unknown in Asia.
  • They were about to open up for the British band HURT in the Baltic.
So how did we end up in the situation in less than 15 months where the band keep going back to Asia ? Let me try to give you some hints.

1: Showcase participation

In order to approach effectively the Asian market, it was crucial for the band to find the right angle. Best approach was to attempt to participate to a showcase festival taking care in Asia. As showcases festivals in Asia are not legion (unlike in Europe where nearly every country has their own showcases), they had a very limited number of chances (Zandari Festival, Music Matters, SOXT, TIMM, MUCON). I met some of the Asian representatives at some European Showcases Festivals such as The Great Escape, Eurosonic or Tallinn Music Week and literally pitch the interest of the band to take part at their festivals. Needless to say that follow up emails were sent in order to get answers.

Luckily Zandari Festival (based in Seoul) answered positively and confirmed that I Wear* Experiment will be part of the line up for September 2016.

I strongly recommend when you interact with bookers, representatives of those showcases to be succinct and straight to the point. Inform them about the current situation of the band, list of achievements over the last 12 months, future plan for the next 12 months, why it’s important to come to Asia. Basically, get a business case ready.

2: Media networking

It’s very important for a band to interact with as much media available during a showcase festival. When the Estonian band was invited to play at Zandari Festa, they got the opportunity to get a radio session and an interview with a local magazine/webzine. But that’s not only it, because you are at a showcase festival, you need to know based on the delegate list which media is present and your mission is simply attempt to meet them. In September 2016, I Wear* Experiment met during one after party two MTV Asia representatives and invite them to see their show the next day. They came and enjoyed the show, it resulted a few weeks later to have Patience single on one of their playlist. Also during that period, we met a blogger who decided to talk about the band as well.

When I Wear* Experiment came back to South Korea last January, the band got the opportunity to be featured in some national newspapers such as: Korea Time, Korean Herald, but also some very cool magazines such as Groove Magazine, and finally the band was featured on NAVER (Korean browser) thanks to the help of a blogger.

I will surely come back on a separate post and reviewed how we handled media across Asia for the band I Wear* Experiment.

3. Work on SNS

Social Media are key and you certainly know it. Before I Wear* Experiment go for the first time in South Korea, they decide to post on regular basis on Instagram and Facebook. Target country was; South Korea.  Posts were using appropriate Korean hashtags. Post were also using some specific content (pictures, videos).

Ideally, you should have a strategy in place 8 weeks before your departure to Asia. Regular and accurate posts are key, I would suggest 2 to 3 posts per week the first 4 weeks and then you increase to 4 posts a week until departure and you keep that rhythm while you are in Asia (document as much as possible) and keep working on it 2 to 3 weeks after you are back home.

It’s  very important when you are in Asia that you share your experience with your audience (pic or video of a local meal with friends, some sightseeing works also well etc..

Perhaps the first thing you need to know: which country = which social media to be used

4. Touring on regular basis

A lot of artists and bands are contacting us at Smallfish and asked to tour in Asia. Of course we are happy to see there is a real interest about Asia. However if you want to be successful in Asia and gained some recognition, you need to be visible ! It simply means, tour frequently  (specially at the beginning) !

In the case of I Wear* Experiment, after the Zandari showcase festival in Seoul that took place in September 2016, the Estonian band return to South Korea 2 times within one year. The frequency is highly important. Because they start touring regularly, they start to develop a local fanbase.

 

5. Prospecting new market

As mentioned above, it’s in the interest of every artists and bands to have a regional vision and not focusing on one country only.

During their last 2 tours, the Estonian band decide not to focus only in South Korea but instead they started adding new territories such as Japan at first then China/Malaysia for their second tour.

In Japan: after their first attempt (in January 2017) the band was offered 5 gigs tour that would take place in September 2017.  For their second tour, in Sept 2017, I Wear* Experiment stopped in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka (twice) and Kyoto. In China, the band was offered 3 shows: Beijing, Tianjin, Zhengzhou. Hong Kong, the band was invited to play one show, and in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the band performed one show.

How did they achieve such results? There is not magic recipe. Again, it’s related to strong networking, frequency of touring, local social media activities and media attentions.

 

What's next for the Estonian band I Wear* Experiment ?

In order to conclude this post, I would simply say that to be recognised and establish in Asia is more complicated than it seems. As you notice it require tremendous efforts and patience. However, I have to say that it really worth it !

As a next step, because I Wear* Experiment still have a lot to do, they will keep touring during 2018 in Asia, they will also be releasing new material in the region. Also they will probably be involve with some Asian collaborations.

More to come 🙂

 

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Music Showcases - Smallfish Blog
10Oct
The importance of music showcases – Get the best of them !
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 Music showcases/conferences are legion and you should not neglect them.


If you are a band and looking to extend your opportunities to grow successfully, you may be interested to read this post.


Yes music showcases help artists to grow and shine in front of professionals. Some artists, after a performance at a showcases, were offered a deal with a big label or were offered to participate to some well established festivals. There are a lot of success stories but don’t take them for granted.
There are some tremendous work that need to be done in order to be effective and be noticed.


Nowadays I see a growth of showcases around the world, some are more popular than others. Best example being: The Great Escape, Reeperbhan, SXSW, Eurosonic, you name it.


The best advise I could give any bands is: come prepared !


Who are participating to those music conferences:


Bands Labels, publishers, booking agencies, venue bookers, festival bookers, pr companies, government representation such as Music Export and any other associations interaction with the music industry.


Why you should take part in those events ?


There are multiple and various reasons such as: research of labels, need the help of a booker to find you gigs in a specific territory, you want to participate to some festivals, you want the help of a pr agency for your next release and boost your media visibility in a specific territory…As you can see, it really depends of the situation of the band and their needs.


When is the right time for a band to apply for a showcase ?


There is no straight answer. Based on my experience, I would recommend artists and bands who already developed a fan base in their home country and have at least a record released but also have a touring history.
I always tell to bands to grow their geographical zone organically. If it works well in your home country, think about the neighboring countries before thinking a country at the other side of the planet. You will save money and time.
Needless to say that before to apply for a showcase, you need to have a credible profile and a proper strategy in place. Just make sure to have an updated website, social media enabled (with activity in terms of content and engagement with audience), and your music available on some platform (soundcloud for instance) and finally get some proper video clips.


It’s highly important to have a team behind you and get proper reference from key people or organisation.
  • Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve by participating a music showcases ?
  • Is it the right events for my band ? (if you are a jazz band, you don’t want to apply for a an Indie music showcase for instance..)


Keep in mind that nowadays, showcases are receiving tons of submissions from bands wishing to participate.  Therefore, competition is very high and organisers need to make tough decision about which bands to select. Imagine that some showcases receive several thousand requests for 150/300 slots. IF you are not selected on the first attempt, you can always try the following year (maybe at that time your profile might be stronger and organisers may get some interest..).


You are selected ! Great ! But that’s not it, it’s just the beginning of a marathon !


It’s not because you are part of the line up of a showcase that success will knock on your door ! You will need to work hard to make yourself notice towards the rest of the line up.


It’s very important to have a good overview of who will be present at the events and for that, you should dig in the delegates list.


  • Make a selection of persons you wish to meet and want to invite for your performance.
  • Contact them per email, introduce yourself,
  • Give them some background about your band,
  • What did you achieve over the last 12 months,
  • What is your plan for the next 12 month,
  • Feed them with details about your performance at the showcase,
  • Provide them links and finally explain why you want to meet them.
Some will answers, some will not. For the one who don’t answers, you may send them a reminder about your show, you never know, they might show up unexpectedly.


About your show:


It’s very important that you come prepared. Start your show on time (bookers, a&R don’t like to wait), often they check the first 3 songs before to run to another show. Have a compact show and display the best of your abilities. Don’t forget to mention where to find you on internet. Finally, after the show, mingle with the audience and collect their feedback (positive or negative).


There is always a possibility that just few people come to see your show, therefore it’s extremely important you give the best as you never know who is in the audience !


During the showcases event:


I know, as a band you might be busy working on the prep of your show, which I do understand, however don’t forget the importance to mingle. Don’t play your show and then just go back home, it will be a pointless and disappointing experience because nobody will call you.


Instead organise a full schedule of meetings, you need to work weeks in advance to have a full and organised schedule.
Keep in mind that for each meeting, you need to be able to pitch efficiently. Think of the elevator pitch: you have a minute and need to explain to the person in front of you: who you are, give some background and why you want to meet that person. During the day, you may repeat thousand times the same pitch 🙂 No pain no game right ! AT the end of the day, what matters is to get their business card and follow up ….).
It’s always good to give a goodies to the person you talk to in order for them to remember you (usb key, or anything that is relevant, avoid cd…..).


Importance of being present at panels of discussion:


It’s always good to go to some discussion panels, mostly because it’s surely a good way to meet panelists or a person you have been chasing for weeks and get their attention for a minute. Some of them may give you their business card. You can always follow up per email later on.


Importance of being present at after parties


It may seems very awkward, but after parties are usually a good place to mingle and meet the person you want to approach.

Post showcases:

Once the showcases is over, it’s always good to send an email to all the person you met and follow up with what was discussed and eventually push further the discussion. It may lead to possible collaborations eventually.


Most popular showcases:


In my next post, I will give you a used case of a band who get noticed during a music showcase.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me


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28Aug
South East of Asia popular destination for bands touring
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Why artists/ bands are touring less in SE of Asia than Europe and US

Well in case you did not notice it, it’s a fact that international artists hardly tour in South East of Asia, well actually I’m kinda of harsh here. Things are slowly changing and you may have noticed for the last 3 or 4 years, we start to see some more artists “daring” to tour in Malaysia/Singapore/Thailand/Phil and Indo.

In Europe for instance, it’s pretty easy to go to concert almost every day as there is a big offering of artists touring and want to penetrate this market.

If we look from far, we can clearly see that touring is divided into 3 geographical sector: US/Europe/Asia (meaning: Japan and Australia).

During decades, artists and most specifically booking agencies have been ignoring what we called the rest of the world and for a certain number of reasons such as:

  • Cost of touring in REW
  • Possible lack of infrastructure (from an international and professional point of view)to welcome the artists
  • The lack of knowledge about those market

Keep in mind that at this time, Internet was not there, information were not circulating as it is right now. The big revolution happened with the arrival of Internet, the access of streaming music (Soundcloud, spotify, shazam ..), social networking  and more recently the access of app over smartphone which allow you to listen and share music..

So if you take all those factors, and you add on top of that a stronger demand to get artists in SE of Asia (showed by the increase of event organizers per country), artists/artist management/booking agencies/global event org (such as Live Nation) start to realize there is some potential in what they called “emerging market”.

I do remember when I booked my first international artist (King of Convenience in 2010), while contacting their agent, I was asked a multitude of questions such as:

  • Details about the venue (because they were not familiar)
  • Details about our Sound team (we literally had a full meeting dedicated about assessing their level of knowledge and skills)
  • Details about the payment
  • Sort of sponsors (profile, and how do they will advertise …)
  • How many tickets will be sold

Don’t get me wrong, they were not inquisitive, but rather looking at getting the global picture and make sure all standard were met to welcome the artist.

Over the last few years, I can see clearly a drastic raise of shows with international artists (big, small, niche ..), it seems that a real awareness is taking place in the mind of the bookers and other global event promoter. However I suppose I think also that the traditional market such as Europe/US/Japan are being saturated and having a set of new emerging market (SE of Asia, South America…) is seen by the bookers as a big opportunity to bring another stream of income.

What’s next….well it seems that Africa could be the next. What do you think ?

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Smallfish Backstage Blog Bands touring in Asia
26Aug
Best practises for bands touring in Asia
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Bands touring in Asia, my first experience and how I faced a predicted disaster.

For the last 25 years, I’m attending concerts and festivals, Just love it, could not live without.

Few years back, almost 12 years in fact, I had in mind to set up a small tour for a  European band in South East of Asia. Why bringing a band for touring in South East of Asia?

As far as I remember, at that time, concerts were not legion in the region. Well established booking agencies didn’t dare to tour in that region. I could see a certain demand growing for new acts from local promoters and local audiences.  Of course I didn’t have any clue about how to set up a tour. I took some info here and there and I thought I was ready. Big mistake. Throughout my numerous travels in the region, I got in touch with some regional organizers (one in Manila, one in Singapore, one in Malaysia and one in Bangkok). I expressed my interest to bring a western band for a couple of gigs. Some of them liked the idea, other were not so keen and prefer to wait for a better opportunity, less risky.

Back home, I start researching some artists or bands that will have an interest for touring in South East of Asia, and finally picked one. The band in question had some success in their own country and in Germany but that was it, their music was extremely niche.

Note: at that time, the underground/indie scene in the South East of Asia was very fragmented, niche and with little exposure when it comes to western artists/bands touring in that region.

I was really confident  (or call it stupid) that the tour will be a blast. I studied carefully the route and any logistic aspects but didn’t take into account some major and basic aspects such as:

  • Marketing: who will do the promotion, how the promotion will be done ..
  • Is there a demand for this type of music or is it very niche?
  • Local promoters
  • Type of venue?
  • How to cover the cost (plane, hotel, ground transportation, food ..)
  • Legal aspect (contracts with the artists, contracts with local promoters)
  • Visa matters and other government rules
  • Set the expectation of the artists

So, let’s dive in and let’s try to understand why this tour was a total catastrophe but also an eye opener.

Understand your market:

I was bringing an unknown band. The demand for such band /music was very niche in the region.

Lesson 1 learned: I should have checked first how was the music market in the SE region, what were the music trends, who are the main actors. Understand your market is a CRUCIAL KEY !

Marketing:

I had no idea of how local promoters will set up their promotion efforts. Well for one of them, his marketing strategy consisted on sending SMS to a big load of contacts and see if some of them will turn in. Another one was just hoping for the best…

The result was chaotic: we got on average 50 people who attend the shows. Well if I’m optimistic here, I would say, it’s not bad for a first time and for an unknown band but once you are going through all the cost, it was clearly a fiasco.

Lesson 2 learned: check how the promotion will be set (who are the media participating if there are any), check the history of the promoters (past shows, success stories, failure).

Relationship  with local promoters:

It’s crucial you know with who you are dealing with. You need to cultivate the relationship.  Check what were their last few shows they organised. Eventually contact one or two artists who played for them. So at least you can get a rough idea about the level of organisation or challenges that the artists faced. Visit the promoters, meet them on several occasions. In my first experience, while I was ready to depart with the band, I received the news that 2 shows were cancelled (one in KL and one in Bangkok). This is the result of having misjudge local promoters abilities.

Lesson 3 learned: in order to have a successful event, you need to have a good and reliable relationship with the local promoter and a good understanding how they are working. Also the local promoter is always the best person to advise you in terms of best period to tour in the region (you don’t want to have a tour when it’s holidays for instance).

Set the expectation of the artist/bands touring in Asia:

While talking with the artists, be always clear of the type of show you proposed, the type of audience expected, the type of environment they will be playing, also the cost associated with it. Never tell them they will be treated as a superstar and a big audience will be waiting for them. Be as transparent as possible and set their expectation from the start.

Four additional points that you should not forget:

Type of venues: Be familiar with the field. it’s crucial you visit the venue beforehand. Have a clear idea where the band will perform, check the size of the venue, the backstage area, security exit, loading area. Take pictures you can show to the band/artist.

Cost: Painful point but it need to be manage properly. You need to have a good idea of what will be your cost. Some basic math need to be done. Get a clear idea beforehand, discuss with the artists/band/label. Always think of a pessimistic scenario as well. One factor which stay uncertain is: you have no idea how big/small the audience will be.

The ideal scenario is to receive a fix fee from the promoter (I will come back on a later post about that specific aspect) but it’s not always possible.

If the band is unknown, you need to check with them what are the cost they will cover and what are their minimum fee/requirement.

Legal aspect: get a contract between you and the local promoter but also get a clear agreement between you and the artist you represent. Secure yourself first !

Visa matters specially for bands touring in Asia:

Always double check the visa process and also what are the current laws in place for artists touring in South East of Asia. Question to ask: do they need tourist visa or do they need working visa?

Perhaps the most important point:

Be on top of your project ! You own the project, you want to make sure that every aspects is covered and the tour in South East of Asia will take place in a smooth way. Consider having a plan B if ever unpredictable situation occurred. Keep a constant look at the politics situation in that region as it can be very volatile during some period. Be in constant contact with local promoters, evaluate the situation before going on tour, during the tour and debrief once the tour is over.

Touring is never an easy thing, it’s a several months projects that request lot of efforts and time. Perhaps my last recommendation will be before to attempt to tour in Asia, gain some success in your home country and neighbouring countries. But also ask yourself why is it important for you to tour in Asia, what do you want to achieve by doing so.

Finally, keep in mind that it takes a few tours in Asia to be “potentially” noticed. Patience is key !

If you have questions about touring in Asia, don’t hesitate to contact us !

 

 

 

 

 

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