There are two halves of the music business. The first half is music: mastering instruments, writing songs and practicing. The second, sometimes elusive, half is business: booking gigs, promoting shows and selling merchandise. These two halves use completely different sides of the brain, and often, the groups that are good at one half aren’t good at the other.
However, both sides can be learned. Sometimes a lesson or class is in order. Sometimes all it takes is a little open communication. With that in mind, two local music promoters, Josh Lease and Heather Meyer, have started monthly “Bands and Promoters” meetings. These meetings provide new bands with some insight into the basics of booking and promoting shows, veteran groups a chance to air some civilized grievances, and everybody a chance to do some networking.
“[It’s for] basically anybody that’s involved with the scene,” says Meyer. “We’re just opening the communication lines, because there seems to be a lot of lack of communication.”
According to Meyer, the first couple of meetings attracted a lot of attention. Not just members of punk, metal and hardcore bands, but also acoustic performers and rappers. The next meeting will be held on July 26. If interested in participating, contact Meyer at email@example.com for details.
She used to work at the Alley in Sparks, but more recently has become a freelance promoter, booking shows at a variety of venues, including the Knitting Factory, Shea’s Tavern, and Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlour.
She books out-of-town acts and tries to pair them with appropriate local groups in an effort to help build connections between local and touring bands. The shows often originate with a touring act contacting her.
“I let them know, yeah, I’ll book you a show, but can you get Reno bands a show in your town?” she says. “Otherwise, I’m really not interested in helping you.”
She was born in Santa Barbara, grew up in the Tahoe area, and got into music promotion while living in San Diego.
“I liked doing down there because I could see that it was making a difference,” she says. “The bands I was working with would get San Diego music awards. I’d get them on the radio, on television spots, because that’s what they do in Southern California. The community really gets behind the local music scene.”
She moved to Reno five and a half years ago.
“I noticed there’s a lot of really good bands here,” she says. “I didn’t really know if they knew how to do things. It’s a lot smaller than San Diego obviously. The way they go about promotion and booking is completely different. I didn’t have any intention of getting involved and doing music out here, and then I was like, maybe I should. … Maybe I can make some sort of difference in Reno.”
She says one of the biggest issues discussed at the meetings so far has been the issue of overbooking—bands that play so often locally that they cut into their own drawing power.
“When bands are just playing with each other, they’re wasting time when they could be playing with touring acts,” she says. “There’s bands out there in Reno that just want to play. … They don’t have goals. They don’t want to leave town [to tour]. Nothing like that. They just want to play, and that’s totally fine. But the bands that actually want to leave Reno [to tour], you have to make contacts to do that. You can’t just leave. You have to build relationships. So that’s what I’m trying to do, to bring in out-of-town bands to help Reno bands.”
Meyer says that though there are some groups she knows she can rely on, she tries to promote a diversity of local bands.
“I try not to just book the same bands over and over again,” she says. “Get some other bands some exposure and see what they can do.”