Friday, August 20, 2010

How to successfully book and promote a gig

The key to being a successful musician is playing a lot of shows. We understand that when you're new to the scene, the task of getting yourself a show booked may seem daunting. Here's how you do it. It's actually super easy.

1 Stake out a venue

Everyone's gotta play somewhere. Take a look at your local venues (we've got a list of Toronto venues here) and decide which ones you can envision yourself playing at. Make sure you take into consideration the size of the venue (do you have enough fans to fill it?) as well as the genre of the bands that play there normally (if you're an alt-country act and you want to play at a punk bar, it's probably not going to work). If you're not of legal drinking age, consider whether or not the venue has put on all-ages shows in the past.

2 Contact the venue

Call the venue and ask to speak to either the manager or the booking agent If you happen to know the names of either of these individuals, (ask your friends who've played at the venue?) then you've got a better chance of being booked. Essentially, your job while talking to a booker is to convince him that the venue will benefit from having your band play there. Your band are a group of responsible young people with a strong following who plan on doing excellent work promoting the show, right? Also, make sure you know the dates you are available to play before you talk to the booking people, because they don't like when you waste their time (and breath).

3 Promote, promote, promote

Now that you've got a gig lined up, it's time to tell everyone you know. A gig poster is a great way to get the word out and contributes a certain fluidity to your promotion campaign. Put the poster up on community bulletin boards, posts, at your work, at the local skate shop -everywhere. Make it an event on Facebook, MySpace,, Twitter. Tell all your friends (and their friends... and your mom) to come!


Once the date has arrived, be courteous and respectful of the venue and try and play the best show you can. It may also benefit you to set up a merch table, with CDs, posters or stickers to sell to fans. Can't afford a run of CDs? Use the table act as an impromptu meet-and-greet space, or create a sign-up sheet for an email mailing list.


5 Follow up with thanks

Sending the venue an email just saying "Hey, thanks!" a week or so after the show is never wrong.

Have an excellent weekend, Firebranders.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ROUND-UP: Music Tumblogs that will make the end of summer better

Apparently, Tumblr is blowing up? It seems to be blowing up in an especially big way for the music-minded. Below are some of the most awesome Tumblr music blogs.

Mark Schoneveld from yvynyl is pretty much the leader (in a lot of people's eyes) of the indie rock music Tumblr thang. I don't know how he does it, but he has amazing taste and seems to have his hand on the pulse of the "cool kids" scene; it's getting to the point where if he blogs about your band, they'll probably get famous. Also, his unbelievable mixtapes will open you up to a lot of music you've probably never heard (but, maybe I'm being presumptuous in saying that, because you probably know a thing or two about music? -Jess)

Cool recent band find: Caloriebomb

Tim from Smoke Don't Smoke has a really sincere handle on musicianship. His careful blogging style is a reflection of this sincerity, and his tendency to not reveal too much about a band helps to create an air of mystery surrounding them.

Coolest recent band find: Earrings

Rosekohl is really awesome, because it's run by a really pretty girl who also happens to be smart. Not that being a girl actual matters in the scheme of things, it's just that there aren't a ton of successful girl bloggers who don't have fashion blogs, you know?

Coolest recent band find:

I think pas-d likes the Kinks more than anyone on Earth. Pas-d is also unconcerned with the current state of music as a throw-back to goth and shoegaze, where one's album art should feature a reference to the culture of the early 1990s. Pas-d just likes what he/she likes and that's it. He/she likes the real stuff.

Cool recent band find:

This blog is not for those offended by strong opinions, because Hardcore for Nerds has got them. While the blog is mostly an audio blog, interspersed between the mp3 files are rants and reactions to various articles written by prominent music press sources and other bloggers. It's very compelling if you want to start thinking of music as a bigger cultural entity than something you just listen to on the streetcar. Please note: the name of the blog is decieving... The genre of music addressed is not hardcore, and the closest you'll get to hardcore, I gather, is Hot Water Music (btw, who is so good, I forgot!)

Cool recent band find: Shooting At Unarmed Men

(Tomorrow's my last day with Firebrand... Say hello to me on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube before I go! -Jess)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ROUND-UP: Best film-related iPhone apps

There are some truly amazing professional and recreational apps from everyone from filmmakers to those who know nothing about movies. The following peaked my interest most intensely.

Professional Tools

A completely functional screen writing application.
Cost: $4.99

Working exposure meter, using the iPhone's built-in camera.
Cost: $2.99

Calculates the important elements of view for photographers and cinematographers.
Cost: $29.99

Full and accurate storyboardin'.
Cost: $19.99

Apparently, it's the most close to reality as far as film slate iPhone apps go (there are a surprising number!)
Cost: $4.99

Fun Stuff

Ever needed to pee really bad during a movie, but are scared of missing an important part? Haven't we all? This app tells you when in a film is a good time to leave, ensuring that you don't miss any unexpected plot twists.
Cost: Free

iPhone Screenshot 5

IMDB doesn't have an official app, so Movie Genie decided it was gonna make one. And, boy were they successful.

This app gives you the showtimes of movies playing in theatres around you. Excellent.
Cost: Free

Need editing or DVD duplication? We do it. Hit us up at and let us know what's up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TIPS N TRICKS: Open-mic nights in Toronto

If your band's not signed and haven't got a show booked, open-mic nights are a great way to get some stage practice. The following are some of Toronto's best-bets.


320 College Street
Neighbourhood: Chinatown/Kensington Market
Sign up at 7pm

292 Brunswick Ave
Neighbourhood: the Annex

1296 Queen Street West
Neighbourhood: Parkdale


123 Danforth Avenue
Neighbourhood: Danforth

474 Adelaide Street East
Neighbourhood: Corktown

562 Church Street
Neighbourhood: The Village


229 College Street
Neighbourhood: U of T campus

25 Cecil Street
Neighbourhood: Chinatown/Baldwin Village
Sign up at 7pm

778 St Clair Ave West
Neighbourhood: St Clair West


725 Queen Street East (at Broadview)
Neighbourhood: Riverside/Leslieville

2579 Yonge Street
Neighbourhood: Yonge & Eglinton


416 Roncesvalles Avenue
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles Village


479 Spadina Avenue
Neighbourhood: Chinatown

386 Bloor Street West
Neighbourhood: the Annex

268 August Ave
Neighbourhood: Kensington

Monday, August 16, 2010


Go see some shows this week. Really. Do it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mumiy Troll @ Mod Club, $39.50-$49.50

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Arietta (the band's last show EVER) @ Sneaky Dee's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unsane (w/Today Is the Day, Weedeater, Vilipend, Keelhaul) @ Sneaky Dee's, $16.50

In blue: the recommended show of the week.


We just want you to be as famous as Usher, so follow these tips and maybe you'll get there.

The media are a ‘ride or die’ bunch. They don’t dig on things that are fussy, and they have no problem blowing you off if you annoy them. If you’ve ever seen the mail room of a major music media outlet, you know it’s a super overwhelming place. Most magazines receive hundreds of packages a day from distributors, label reps and unsigned artists hoping to catch a break; it doesn’t matter if your band is a freakin’ GG Alin cover band (God forbid!) -if your package looks crummy, they won’t even look at it. Make sure you write on the package neatly, and double-check on spelling (there’s nothing more frustrating than having someone spell your name wrong). Also, make sure the materials inside are not crumpled or ripped and are folded correctly. Projecting professionalism is key.

Everything’s better when it’s simple. Don’t overcomplicate your One Sheet by putting too much on it. Break down your history in a direct and easy to understand way. Your music should speak for itself. (Note: I find that the design of a One Sheet (font choices, photographic style, etc) affect the way I perceive a band more than what they've written. -Jess)

There’s nothing that pisses reviewers off more than artists who to sell themselves with their One Sheets. While it’s great to acknowledge your band’s achievements, using charged adjectives like “best” and “awesome” just make you seem like a desperate amateur. Being truthful about the nature of your music is more appropriate.

Pretty basic, but ensure's that you can be found if need be.

Adding an unusual touch to your press kit means it will be memorable. Including thoughtful, personalized drawings, band stickers, pins or posters to your kit will help build a positive impression. Just don‘t make them too bulky. (Note: Money is also good… Kidding! -Jess)

We hope that you have fun on your rode to recognition.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The best contemporary art galleries in Toronto

When I'm feeling uninspired, I usually go and see art. It helps me regroup and gives a fresh perspective. Here are some of my favourite contemporary art galleries in Toronto to hang out in.

231 Queens Quay West
Tuesday-Sunday: 12-6
Wednesday: 12-8
Monday: closed
One of the oldest contemporary galleries in Toronto, the Power Plant aims to remain relevant in the realm of contemporary art and expose Torontonians to famous works.
Current Exhibition:
Adaptation: Between Species (19 June - 12 September 2010) featuring the work of Cory Arcangel, Nina Katchadourian, Hanna Linden (one of my personal favourites) and many more.

107 Shaw Street
Saturday and Sunday: 12-6
The people behind 107 Shaw believe in building up the art scene in Toronto by displaying the work of local young artists.
Current Exhibition:
Studies for possible futures: The Moon and everything else (5 August - 26 August 2010) featuring the work of Maggie Groat

952 Queen Street West
Tuesday - Sunday: 11-6
Monday: closed
Not-for-profit and associated with Toronto's municipal art funding, MOCCA is devoted to showcasing the worth of both local and international talents who challenge societal norms and are "groundbreaking or influential".
Current Exhibition:
Empire of dreams: Phenomenology of the built environment (19 June - 15 August) featuring the work of Liam Crockard, Dorian Fitzgerald, Josh Thorpe and many more.

1161 Dundas Street West
Wednesday - Saturday: 1-8
Sunday: 1-7
Monday and Tuesday: by appointment only
Primarily a place for up-and-coming artists, Show & Tell hopes to support their artists by helping to sell their work, as well as by providing resources for art making.
Current Exhibition:
The Beauty of Failure (9 July - 29 August 2010) featuring the work of Anthony Lister.

5 47

Installation by Dennis Lin (image source)

47 Milky Way
Wednesday - Sunday: 12-7
Hoping to promote up-and-coming artists, 47 specializes in installation and sculpture works.
Current Exhibition:

Tip: Never been to an art opening? If you want to be surrounded by people who are intimidating, but endearing, go. Plus, they usually provide drinks! Woooo.