There's more in Cleveland OH, than King James Lebron, there's a huge music scene there. From the North Coast, Jenn joins us to share some insight on how to get your band out of your moms basement (or garage). And inside stadiums , standing tall on stages and most importantly MAKING MONEY.
Hi Jenn, welcome. How are you? Wonderful. Thank you for having me.
Where are you from and what did you like/hate about it. I'm originally from Cleveland, OH and now live in a suburb of Cleveland. I love the fall here and hate the winters when there is more than 6 inches of snow on the ground.
Tell us about Toxic Unlimited and how you got involved there.Toxic Entertainment Unlimited is a full service entertainment company. We do everything from structuring bands, setting them up as businesses, counseling, label shopping, bookings, promotions, management and anything that has to do with the business side of being in a band or solo artist. Back when I was in high school my friend's boyfriend was in a band and we were always out passing out flyers for the band's gigs and talking to people at shows and getting them to come out. I hung around with a lot of local musicians and just liked helping them. I met my friend Shawn at his band's show and felt I could really help them. It seemed like once I started helping bands information for major players in the music industry were just falling into my lap. *( Back in the late 80s and early 90s it was easier to call labels and just talk to A&R or entertainment attornies, and managers. People really gave me great advice.) I started networking and I had to come up with a name that stuck in people's heads and I said what better than Toxic Entertainment. The Unlimited part was to make the statement that there was unlimited possibilities to what I could provide for bands and the major players. I got Shawn's band on 2 shows, one was the Burger Cookoff in the Flats and the other was opening for Dee Snider's band Widowmaker. That sealed my fate. Later I went to work at a temp agency as the office girl and my boss Stephanie owned her music company Raven Enterprises and I followed under her and she groomed me for the biz. I did the music thing until 1994 when I seen the music scene going in a different direction (the scene changes every 10 yrs) and I left the business. In 2005 I met a band on MySpace from NYC called THE ANSWER and I talked to them online and they invited me to one of their Ohio shows as their guest (TEU wasn't in existance at that point). I went to the show, met the guys and we talked like we knew each other forever. 2 weeks later I had them being played on a local radio station and was getting them press and gigs. They encouraged me to get back in the game so TEU officially came back for business. I have met so many awesome people since I got back in the game. It's nice when you are a one person from Cleveland and people know your name and your company name on a global scale without meeting a lot of them in person.
Whats one of the most things Musicians should know (Besides how to play lol.)
Educate yourself about the business. Know what a booking agent, a manager, a promoter, etc does. Get an entertainment lawyer (it's worth it). If this is something you want to do long term then set yourself up and an LLC and get an accountant and keep track of everything you make and everything you pay for (loses) and write it off. Don't go into the game thinking you are going to get signed. There is a very slim chance of that happening. I'm not saying don't be the best band on the planet because there is no hope for you. You really really have to have a strong buzz for anyone to notice you. Be happy to go out, reach fans and make some money. Have fun, that's what it's about. Also, PROMOTE yourself and your shows. If you don't have the time to promote (physically and online) then no one is really going to want to do anything with you. Success is on you. If you work hard at promoting yourself you will reap the rewards. If you sit on your ass and do nothing you have no one to blame but yourself for your lack of growth.
You tube, social sites, itunes, What makes an artist stand out and be successful.
These days it's about going viral and really generating that buzz. You need to make yourself stand out. Don't do what everyone else is doing. If it's been done, simply don't do it. You only make waves if you are unique. I hate when I go to a venue to see bands and every band on the stage looks and sounds the same. The music gets boring and I get bored and quit paying attention. Now if that's me doing that, imagine how many more people are doing that. For example, the band ATOMIC TOM was recently seen on news channels all around and on CNN for their viral video on YouTube of them performing on a New York subway with iPhones. Genius move on their part because it got them a lot of attention (not to mention the band is really good). They got themselves in the press and millions of hits on YouTube. So be different and create your own buzz.
Before coming to you and Toxic Unlimited what do artists need?
Know what you are looking for. It annoys me when bands come to me and say they need a manager that can book them on good shows. It's not a manger's job to book for their artists since it's illegal in a few states and unethical as well. A booking agent books shows. Bands need to have a great product. Professional websites (actual website, MySpace, Facebook, etc), an EPK, or a product that I can work with. If they are looking to go on the road they need to have backup funding in the event the worse happens while on the road (and it does). A lot of it is going to depend on the level of the band but for those that are established and need help getting to the next level those are the things I look for.
Is it just me or does Ohio have a lot of cool bands?
The band pool is weird here. So many bands have the same sound or image so it's hard to distinguish them. But for those that stand out, yes we have some pretty amazing talent here.
Besides the ones you work with/for, who are some of your favorite artists.
I have a very wide range of likes. Rascal Flatts, Ozzy Osbourne, Buckcherry, Nick Lachey, Britney Spears, Ingrid Michaelson, Yanna, Il Divo, Ricky Martin (I am really into Latin music), and Andre Bocelli. I love the classics too, Presley, Holly, Cline, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, CCR, Meatloaf. I just really love music.
How does Jenn have a good time and relax. I chill out with my son a lot. He is has Aspberger's Autism and we spend a lot of time together talking about stuff, going to concerts and watching movies. I also read a lot, write and I must admit, I am addicted to Zynga video games.
If you could change one thing in this industry what would it be?.
The Pay To Play game. I don't think it's right for venues to make bands selling over priced tickets for a local show and the band only gets a dollar a ticket if they are even lucky to get paid at all. They get crappy time slots or the venue takes the money and the band doesn't get to play. Something is seriously wrong with a venue keeping 90 percent of ticket sales, 100 percent of the door and 100 percent of bar sales. That's why a lot of bands don't promote shows. I wouldn't either if I was going to bust my ass promoting and not get paid.
Thanks for being "In tune with tmill" any shout outs?