The way Adam Varona and his fiancée, Danielle Anselmo, see it, Sacramento bands should be doing much better. Sold-out concerts at Sleep Train Amphitheatre and the like show there are tons of music lovers in the greater Sacramento area, so where are they when local bands take the stage at smaller venues? Varona and Anselmo suspect the key to a musician’s success is creative marketing: taking advantage of media contacts, press kits, merchandise and image. And with more than a decade in the journalism business between them, Varona and Anselmo hope their experience and legwork will help. In April, the two launched Ferocious Kitty Media (www.ferociouskittymedia.com), a full-time project designed to get Sacramento bands more attention. The company now provides services for eight local acts in addition to Varona’s band, Adam Varona and his Famous Celebrity Asses.
On your Web site, you say the trick for bands in Sacramento that are struggling to pack local venues is exposure mostly—beyond putting up fliers and that sort of thing. What should bands be doing to promote themselves?
I think just sort of thinking outside the box and thinking outside the small scene they’re in and trying to attract the, you know, 2 million people in the Sacramento area that have no idea what’s going on. I think different ways to do that are to set up listening stations in malls, and just handing out fliers and CD samplers in places people normally wouldn’t, you know? Everybody gets fliers on their cars if they park at Old Ironsides. You know, just trying to expose the scene to the everyday Joe.
A wider variety of people.
Yeah, definitely. I think there’s unlimited potential for a lot of bands. You know, I think Richard March could be drawing as many people as Jackie Greene if not more. I think it’s just down to promotion.
What do you think makes Sacramento a hard place to create a following?
Good question. I don’t know if it’s a hard—there are some bands that do pretty well. And I think just certain bands that have all the talent in the world just lack publicity. … But I think the town, you know, has great musicians. And even for the bigger musicians in town, they’re not—it has definitely not touched, like, the New York City scene. I feel like [Sacramento] deserves to be on the same level as early-'90s Seattle, late-'60s San Francisco, ‘90s New York. I think that it has unlimited potential. … There’s gotta be tons and tons of people just ready to get something new in their systems.
One of the services on your list kind of intrigued me: image consultation and how musicians need to look the part a bit better. Tell me about that.
Depending on the band. … It doesn’t necessarily have to do with your clothes. It has to do with your attitude and just sort of your overall appearance. I think bands could work harder on presenting the audience with an entertaining set instead of just “Here’s our music,” you know, awkward stage banter. I think a lot of people don’t really put a lot of thought into what they look like onstage. And that’s not supposed to be superficial, but I just know that I look at some people, and I think, “Man.” I don’t know. If there’s an attractive guy who’s the lead singer for a band, and he’s wearing a ratty old T-shirt, he could get the ladies a-comin’ back [laughs].
Just a little more showmanship?
Yeah. Thinking about everything, not just whether your band is on time or not.
Has any band taken you up on image consultation yet?
We’re kind of working slowly. I think a lot of the bands that we’re working with have pretty good knowledge of that. … But we have an image consultant who will go to a show and say, “Hey, here’s what I think you should project on the stage. Here’s how I think you should dress.”
On your site it also said merchandise is a big thing that bands drop the ball on.
Yeah, there’s a lot of bands that have good merchandise for sale. But I think a lot of bands have a good supply of hard-core fans. Like Life is Bonkers—they have shirts, and they have their hard-core fans who wear their shirts everywhere, and that’s really cool. Just anything, like stickers. Putting your stuff out there—and more than just music.
Tell me about the showcase events.
We’re running those right now through our house. And I think we might actually always have our house shows. They have a certain vibe to them that’s really good. I think the main goal for the house shows for me is to get as many of the best, most talented musicians in the area together in a non-venue atmosphere where they can relax, have a few beers and sort of shed the layers of self-consciousness that we all have. … And putting 20 bands together, everyone gets a chance to hear all the different great local bands that there are, including myself. … Once our reputation grows, it’s only going to get better, more advantageous for musicians to come and showcase themselves.