We're starting planning for 2006 and beyond right now and we want to make some changes to a variety of programs and want feedback in hopes that some folks will come up with interesting ideas that we haven't thought of.
The biggest change I see coming is a new way of looking at and dealing with Local Chapters. We've struggled for years to keep chapters active and productive, but with only a couple of exceptions, they all come and go and start and stop and coordinators come and go and disappear and get burned out and members start off enthusiastic and then get distracted and attendance at meetings or events drops and so on. In the last few months we've had quite a few major coordinators "retire" and want to hand the chapter off to someone else, but haven't even had a good candidate to take the reigns. So, we obviously need a change. We want to stop wasting time on things people aren't interested in and we also want to become more proactive on a lot of issues that affect us all which we could make a difference in politically for our members.
So.. that said, I've been brainstorming a new approach. Here's some thoughts I have so far. This isn't a new policy, it's just open brainstorming as a starting point for a new system. I appreciate your thoughts or feedback (especially from those who have been to a chapter meeting or event in the past).
Here's the start of an article I am working on about this (it's not finished). Let the feedback begin!
Shortly after we started Just Plain Folks, we launched local chapters so members who had met during Roadtrip events could continue to get together even when we weren't in town. As much as I think the Internet and email are a valuable communication tool, there's nothing better than face to face interactions with other folks in your own area now and then. Over the past 8 years we've had over 100 different cities with chapters at one point or another which have lasted varying amounts of time with varying levels of success. Our oldest chapter is Los Angeles, but we've had long runs in cities like Buffalo, Nashville, Phoenix, Tampa, Minneapolis and others. We originally though that local coordinators would be in charge for a year or so and then someone else would step up for the next year and so on, but the reality has been some folks have done it so long that no one else has really even considered stepping up to take the reins. We also noticed in pretty much every city (except perhaps Tampa and Buffalo) the interest level comes and goes in every city and after 6-9 months, coordinators are struggling to keep people involved. That's a problem that has been the same not only in the US Cities but also in other countries where we've had chapters. So what is the solution?
I think we need to shift our focus from a repetitive monthly system of meetings, showcases, workshops and networking events to finding ways to make an impact on specific issues, opportunities and special events in a larger area around the US and in cities outside the US where we have an active membership. Here are some ideas I have for this new approach, but I am open to your input as well. With all the brain power of our collective 38,000+ members, I bet there's a lot of great and productive ideas out there.
1. I'd like to have JPF volunteer representatives in every US Congressional District and in each capital city around the world where we have members. These folks would replace our traditional chapter coordinators. Rather than having to spend their time planning events, hosting meetings, securing venues for showcases etc.. they would focus on a smaller number of special events and spend a lot more time communicating via our website message boards, their local politicians, other music organizations and companies and the media.
2. These Representatives would be responsible for 4 events per year instead of 12 like the current coordinators. We would also emphasize finding a variety of local members to help with each event. The Representatives aren't supposed to do all the work, but help coordinate all the help and support that is available. The 4 event types would be as follows:
Event A. A yearly member showcase. These shows would resemble our JPF Roadtrip showcases at local venues where anyone who is an area member would be able to attend and perform a song or two (depending on numbers). These events have always been successful in both chapters and Roadtrip tours, but with the growth of our org. membership, we can no longer make it everywhere even once every 2 years as we have in the past. So instead, we'll have 1 official JPF showcase no matter what in every home city of each representative and then we'll supplement those with Roadtrip Showcases during the tours we can do. The stakes for these showcases will be much higher in that we'll select a "Winning" performance at each show as voted by the local members to represent that performer for consideration as Live Artist of the Year and a feature performance slot at our Just Plain Folks Music Awards Show, which has grown to be the largest music awards in the world. (And 26,000 of you have already entered something this year). No JPF fees would be involved.
Event B. A yearly networking party. This is a simple dinner/networking gathering of all interested area members who come out and meet and greet each other. If someone can host this at a large home, that is great, otherwise it could be held in any number of public facilities or restaurants. We had a recent Central Indiana Networking Party/Dinner that we hosted at our home here in Indianapolis last month as a test and it worked wonderfully. By having a night (especially if it can be held at a home) where folks can be more casual and friendly, I think networking is more effective than at a venue or during a showcase concert. No JPF fees would be involved (unless the local members elected to pitch in for food).
Event C. A yearly workshop with a speaker and a panel in each city. This would be a free workshop and the topics would include the state of the music scene in your region as well as an educational topic chosen by the local members. No JPF fees would be involved, though if the local members elected to bring in a paid speaker, that would be at their discretion upon approval from us. We would help set up a Q&A panel from our contacts in the music industry and could also likely find speakers for most locations.
Event D. A Music Awards Voting Session. Our awards have grown to historically large proportions and we've always utilized active chapter members to act as peer judges. We'd like to create a specific meeting/event where we handed out voting discs and discussed the voting process, how it worked etc... so we can expand the voting. We're working on ways to expand the fan voting process, but to keep it even (we use 3 segments, industry, fans and peers) we want to expand the peer voting as well. These voting session meetings would only happen in years where we're having an awards show (for example in fall of 2006).
3. The representatives would also be our active voice in political issues that affect the music community. We will not be looking for people of a specific party, but instead we will be issue oriented and hope to find people who can support specific issues, regardless of which US political party (or other party in other countries) supports or opposes the issue. We have members pretty much everywhere, and we think it's time we took advantage of the diversity and grassroots power of our entire membership to help us be vocal on issues such as Health Care for self employed musicians, songwriters and music professionals, having our voices heard and counted on issues involving the FCC media regulations (i.e. radio payola, ownership limits, low power FM radio etc..), and also in having active voices to work with the local representatives of the PRO's (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC in the US and the international PRO's as well) and someone to represent us in any other music or arts related issue in key cities and political districts. It's important that we are non partisan and issue oriented and it's also important to me personally that we have divergent opinions and view points represented (in the US for example, we want a mix of Republicans, Democrats and Independents) so we can view issues openly and with less political based bias.
4. We would have a discussion group for the Representatives to actively discuss issues and form positions and opinions on where we want to stand as an organization. This might include occasional conference calls or online chats.
The key responsibility for these representatives would be communication. Actively and often. So instead of a coordinator worrying each month about getting a venue or house to host an event.. and getting a sound system or a good turn out for a showcase etc.. their real skill and requirement is to be our eyes and ears and mouthpiece in their community.
Do you think we can find people in each Congressional District to do this?
I know that here in Los Angeles, it's already started to shift to something more like this already. Our meetings haven't been as consistent as they used to be. Faith has been doing a good job at getting people of diverse things to come talk about.
I'm not so sure that showcases even work all that well unless you're attending them Brian. It seems that the figure-head draws the most of the group. I'm not sure how easy it would be to get more charismatic people to lead in each area.
But I like where you're headed with the idea of shifting to more event style functions.
Music That Makes Your Soul Happy! www.jodywhitesides.com
I do want to mention that we don't plan to prevent ANY active chapter from doing what they already do in this change. But we wouldn't likely launch new chapters in the old format if we make this change. The old chapters can continue on as long as they want.
I'm listening, the local chapter here g-ville FL is a joke. Tampa is too far away but they are active.
Something for the rural people would be the ticket for me.
My thoughts on it would be maybe to narrow down the chapters.
There are people from chapters I have noticed that enter other chapters for their contests.
If it was for example, Mid-West Chapter or North-East chapter. A region instead of towns or states.
But people would'nt want to be left out of representation either.
But if you do Sticky threads, maybe there could be a member for each given chapter to a given region and thus would build up more interest because people would hit that forum and see all these different chapters by their Stickys.
I hope that makes sense.
I am not sure what you are referring to. As it stands right now we have no competitions connected to the chapters. So I am not sure what you mean?
Also, this message board is 7 years old. It doesn't have the ability to have "sticky threads" and with 3/4s of a million posts, we don't want to lose the posts we have to switch to a different system. We might upgrade the boards at some point, but the quotes we've had to do it are around $1K (we could save money doing it manually, but we'd risk losing all the posts we have and that's not a great idea).
We would likely add a board for every district (if we matched the US Congressional Districts) and it would be a requirement of each Rep to keep their board updated. That's not as easy as it sounds as we've requested the current Chapter coordinators do that but very few have. If we want to be able to make a serious difference in our community on a political and industry level, we have to become more active and proactive. I've been speaking with some politically savvy folks and they tell me if we could pull this off, we'd be able to make up a lot of ground on big organizations like the RIAA who don't actually represent voters in each district like we do. The have the "fame" factor.. but we have the real live voting constituents factor.
The fact that only a couple people have chimed in also tells me we'll likely have to look beyond the current message board users for most of these folks. Hopefully we'll hear from more people soon.
[This message has been edited by Gypsy Picker (edited 11-28-2005).]
I agree that something new, a different approach is needed.
When I took over the chapter here I had a lot of interest from the start. Once things began to form, the diversity of the membership basically divided it in to groups. Because of the low numbers overall, (around 20 )there were not enough people in each group to get anything going.
There are artists who are serious about perfroming and promoting themselves and want things that reflect that. There are part timers who, play on the weekends and hold down day jobs with kids family etc... they have little time form JPF meetings, and are not very responsive.
We have hobyists, who are not interersted in much of anything other than chit chat and playing out once in a while.
Some are totally averse to playing in bars/clubs, others are averse to playing in public, others are averse to chit chat....
some are studio owners, production folks and are interested in getting new clients.
It's such a mixed bag. Plus the fact that in the Cincinnati tri-state area, the distances are so great for everyone to travel to get to a meeting, it makes it hard to get people to come out.
I have had the meetings in a centrally located spot, and still some people are driving 45 minutes to an hour to get there. It takes me around 40 minutes.
Here in this area we have Cincinnati, Dayton, Middletown, Hamilton, Northern Kentucky, and Indiana. We also have membership that reaches from every point in that map. It's too big an area to be practical for most folks.
So to be honest, I can't really blame the person from Dayton or Middletown for not wanting to come down to Cincinnati.
I like the showcase idea.
But have to say that after coordinating music for a festival back in September, in which I reserved time slots for JPF artists, the reliability factor was a big issue. It turned out ok, with one last minute no show, but all of the crap that went into getting it there was not worth the trouble.
I have been asked to work with other festivals and can provide oppportunities for JPF artists, but at this point, I would only do so on an individual basis with people that are reliable and that I know will be open to communication , and working together.
I also like the link to politics, I am already active in promoting womens music and issues w through acoustic songbird and songbird radio.
I am also issue oriented, and am not a member of any political party.
Of course that is a big chunck to be biting off, and will require exceptional organizational skills to keep everyone focused and on the same page, in order to make any kind of impact on legislation, etc....
I don't know first hand how things are in other cities, but do know that when it comes to the arts, and promoting local and regional talent, it just ain't happening. Grants form grass roots projects have dwindled to nothing, people in the arts have lost jobs right and left, , and the burn out rate has been ovewrwhelming, among folks who traditionally lead the march on issues of social justice in the arts. Issues such as insurance, fair play and compensation, etc..
I know that in cincinnati, the city would rather pay out huge amounts of money to bring people in from the outside, rather than plop down a dime to help the local talent.
Everything that the local talent gets in this town, they earn, bu working harder and longer than everyone else.
I would have to take a really deep breath before I jumped full tilt into this one. Again.......
Mainly because it is a full time job,usually filled by a profesional arts administrator..
Political advocacy, is not something that can be done when ever one feels like it, it has to follow the flow of the legislation, and current debate on the subjects at hand. Requires a lot of research, and kowledge about the issues. and even more involvement, to get on the inside of the debate, so that there is a possibility of change.
My question would be, who has that kind of time.
Who, on a volunteer basis, could afford it.
Anyway, lots of things to consider.
One thing that you did not mention was the website change that you spoke about several months ago, where chapters would have their own area on the mother site.
I had at the time wanted to start a Cincinnati chapter website, and you did not want anything going on outside the JPF site. How do you feel about this now, and is anything happening on that front.
I started JPF because I didn't feel like the orgs I was a member of (including NSAI and the ISA) were doing the things I thought they could or should do. Rather than simply complain about what I was unhappy with and waiting for them to address it or do what I wanted, I stepped up and did it myself.
If someone wants a chapter to do something they aren't, if they aren't willing to step up to make those things possible, I am not sure how they can expect things to change for the better. It's sort of like voting. Half the US doesn't vote, but nearly everyone complains about what's happening at any given time. If you wanted Buffalo to be better or different, I know Michael and the folks running it would love to have had your support and work to make things better. But you have to offer it and get involved. Observing from a distance doesn't solve anything for anyone. I think you have to agree with that. Remember, everyone working with JPF is a volunteer. I think those who have stepped up to try and do SOMETHING deserve a lot of credit. If folks have chosen not to step up, it's hard to take their criticism as productive input.
People in this era are apathetic. There's many obvious reasons for this, but it's a problem than any volunteer org. has to deal with. One of the reason for my proposed change is that it's often easier to find 2-3 motivated folks than a room full. Some of our chapters have successfully kept people involved over several years. Buffalo has one of the longest running streaks of meetings/events of any city, even though they might be a bit down right now. Tampa has been the most successful in the last 2 years at keeping folks involved, but it's hard work and takes a community of people stepping up, rather than 1 or 2 people doing all the work. So the new format would take a lot of the monthly pressure off of a volunteer so they could focus on 1 showcase, 1 networking meeting, 1 workshop and then use the rest of their energy to communicate and do things that don't require a room full of people to accomplish.
When we do Roadtrips, we go to many chapter cities that can't get folks to come to events, but suddenly people come out of the woodwork to perform and attend. In cities where we average 5 people at a chapter meeting, a Roadtrip showcase will fill a venue with 150 people. The only difference is that I am there, but I refuse to believe that it requires me to be in the room for folks to get together. I think the more likely reason is that it's more of a special event rather than a monthly ho hum thing. So the new format should (hopefully) get folks together in the same room (which is really the goal here) at least a few times a year, and then free up a coordinator/rep to use their energy to do tangible productive things the rest of the time. The challenge, of course, will be to find people to volunteer and take the responsibility. It may be impossible. But if I want to make the program better, I have to put the effort into making it happen. We're not hypocritical here. So we'll step up to work to find the folks to get involved and work to provide some guidance and ideas and support and hope that people like you and others who are dissatisfied with the current options as they stand today will ALSO step up and personally get involved. Then we all win. And that's what we want in the first place I hope.
The first step in having chapter sites was for the coordinators to keep regularly posting on their chapter message boards here. Unfortunately, very few coordinators followed through and posted at least 1 time per week. If that was too demanding on their time, it was clear setting up more complex chapter webpages would be a futile effort. You can scroll down the message boards here to all the active chapters pages and see very few have posted at all, let alone every week for the last 6 months.
[This message has been edited by Gypsy Picker (edited 11-28-2005).]
[This message has been edited by dhsongs (edited 11-24-2005).]
I guess for me we're well aware of what problems the chapters face. But without actual people getting directly involved to help improve the situation, simply re-identifying the problems doesn't move anything forward. I welcome ideas even from folks who don't participate, but unless you're actively involved, simply adding more criticism to those who are trying at least isn't positive in my mind.
What we really need are folks who have good ideas and some ability or intent to help make those ideas a reality.
As for you feeling marginalized, I am sorry you feel that way, as that was not my intent. If you felt bad about my comments, then imagine how a coordinator who has volunteered and worked for years to keep a chapter together might feel reading criticisms from someone who hasn't even attended a first meeting?
If anyone wants to blame someone for the lack of success at a chapter, the coordinator is the last person to blame. Feel free to blame me first and foremost. Also feel free to blame the active and inactive members in the area who are dissatisfied for not working to improve the situation. But I really don't put any blame on the few hardy coordinators who at least are giving it a shot.
It's not like we have 20 other people begging to take over any given chapter. In every city we have a chapter, that's the ONLY person who offered to do it. They just don't deserve blame or criticism for the job they are doing until folks who are trying to help fix things are turned away which simply hasn't happened anywhere that I am aware of.
Criticism needs to be backed with plans and action to be meaningful. There's plenty to be unhappy about with the chapters. No one is more unhappy about it than me. That's the entire reason we're having this discussion and trying to find some new approaches that will appeal to local members, serve to bring them together at least a few times a year, and also help the entire global artist community by becoming more proactive and working to have the voices of the little guys heard at the big table. So, if you have a criticism of someone elses failure, lets have a solution to go with it and some willingness to help make that solution a reality. THEN we'll get a lot of positive things done. If you want to say "what if we did.. (fill in the blank)" that's great as well. At least that doesn't place or imply blame on someone else for that thing not already happening.
[This message has been edited by Gypsy Picker (edited 11-28-2005).]
I am not sure how recent your offers have been, but I do know in the case of Michael in Buffalo he has already stepped down as coordinator due to a serious health crises with his family. We haven't replaced him because we're working on a new format. Offering up a local venue is a very positive way to get involved. If your offer was months ago, then I have no explanation as to why you didn't get a response because I know we were looking for venues for the Roadtrip Show this summer and I wasn't aware of your offer at that time.
Another clear and obvious missed opportunity is that with the exception of a few chapters, we can't get people to use the message boards. At all. Even in cities where we have active meetings, showcases, events etc.. no one will post. Message boards appeal to some people but totally repel others. In general, most active gigging artists are not particularly good about getting onto message boards. (There's exceptions of course, but that's a true generality). In the case of Tampa, I believe the message board is primarily responsible for the continued sustained success of that chapter. In the case of LA, they did just fine without it. Only 1 out of 4 JPF members are even registered on the boards. Only about one in 40 visit regularly. It hasn't proved to be an effective way to generate chapter participation. Our message boards get 500K visitors a week. But the chapter message boards probably don't get 50 posts combined in that same time frame. So anyone expecting to hear back from message boards posts are likely to be disappointed. That's why I hope a new format would give coordinators more opportunity to be responsive on the message boards and to new people who sign up. We know the problem and the solution, but so far we don't have a practical way to implement the solution.. getting folks to use the boards.
As far as chapter coordinators posting
message boards once a week.
I would do that if I had something to post.
Not all members use this message board. I have posted things here and when trying to get peoples feedback on them , they know nothing about what I am doing, so I resorted to sending emails instead.
and even that is a 50/50 proposition, because they don't always respond to emails either.
People just don't check in here everyday for their news.
I check the boards every day or so for that reason, if I have something to post in the chapter board I do, if someone has posted something that I can pass on I do....
I try to help people if I can, and will peorsonally follow up on a lot of things.
I am not sure how I can make this work any better. or get people to use the boards for their chapter information. If they are only casually interested in the first place.
As far as any kind of blame goes. I don't see it as a blame game. it's just a matter of what people wnat and what they are willing to do.
Some folks are great, devoted and good at working together for a common goal, others are not.
I think one approach on the chapter boards is to simply start discussions like you find on the general message board. If there's anything going on in your region, you can discuss it. The folks in Tampa seem to find plenty to discuss and that's a relatively small city. Why they've embraced it over most other cities, I am not sure, but I do know that without regular new posts, no one participates. The more posts there are, the more people check in, and the more reason they have to make checking in and posting a habit. It's clear that people don't have the time/availability or interest in getting together face to face as often as they used to (in the early days, we had chapters with stuff going on nearly every week with good attendance.. but things have changed in the last 7 years). So one possible alternative is to get folks used to checking in to see what they're friends are up to like Tampa does. There's very little discussed on this general board or on the other boards that wouldn't be equally useful on a chapter board being discussed amongst folks who live in that area. But we have learned for sure that a large percentage of the membership won't use the message boards under any circumstances no matter what you do. It's like a genetic difference between people. Some like to communicate this way.. many hate to.
[This message has been edited by dhsongs (edited 11-24-2005).]
Those were local contests I was referring to and not connected to the JPF contests.
I personally like things how they are and browse around the different chapters.
I was mentioning Stickys more for atonomy purposes.
But that could make things more confusing too, as you described.
For some reason I thought that the chapters sqared off in competitions too, because I have known of other sites that do that.
Even though I know it's for individual submissions also.
It seems like weeks sometimes that these chapters are visited.
But this site has grown a lot since I signed up just 5 months ago, so that will most likely change.
In case I forget to say it, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
[This message has been edited by My Name? (edited 11-22-2005).]
I applaud the energy and effort that has been put into the JPF. I also recognize the value that a co-operative enterprise, such as the JPF, has in a given community. I belong to the Buffalo Niagara Chapter and have been to several meetings and performed at a couple of their events. All organizations have their ups and downs and we are definately not immune to any. I believe that any snubs that may be perceived by anyone are not at all intentional. Everyone involved in this chapter has been very nice in my year as a member, but I think that going to a meeting would really straighten out a lot of the misconceptions perceived.
I'm only in this for FUN and I enjoy what I do immensely. I'll do it at the drop of a hat, But, and thats a big but, when folks start getting snippy snotty and snubby I will endeavor to persevere. Just to tick them off. So come to a meeting and have a good time, do a good job meet some fine local musicians. Maybe then someone will hear what your saying...
I was the NYC coordinator for a bit and now am coordinator for Cape Cod and SE Mass.
Admittedly, I've been a bit lax the last few months after a good chapter launch last spring. There's plenty of 'interest' but there's been a lack of other members really stepping up to help and also it's been difficult with my current schedule to keep up the monthly schedule. But count me on board to help with the revamp.
I REALLY like your suggestions for a targeted 4 event year.
In general, those seem like the kinds of events that have worked well for us already and with such a spread out schedule, it would be much easier, from my perspective, to follow through with the commitment.
If there was some way for those of us coordinating in a particular region to network a bit and stagger our events, we could perhaps keep a steady schedule of JPF events going regionally, while only being responsible for coordinating a portion of them.
Also, the 'official' showcases you mentioned.... will they be set up on a Road Trip style schedule? I think it would be cool for those who might choose to follow the showcases around like the Road Trip.
Also, the group participation in the awards process is a VERY good idea. As a past judge of the awards (many many categories!), I can honestly say that it's a great experience. I've been exposed to genres of music I may have never otherwise encountered....genres I now appreciate. I've heard amazing music all across the board but most of all, I feel like I've gained strong exposure to a large body of the best of current independent music and been educated in many ways by the experience. I think other musicians would benefit as well. And heck.... I'm for anything that makes the huge awards process easier on you Brian!
Again count me in for Southeastern MA.
The last couple of posts remind me that some of us don't play live.
I hav'nt played music with anyone in a few years.
So I am ignorant of get togethers.
I could probably loosen up and play at an event if I was gurnied out and a machine made me play the chords.
I have a bit of stage fright.
When I played before, I had artificial confidence.
I was a kid and I did'nt give a care.
That is supposed to happen as we get older, so adults in my life have told me.
But I would really like to get together for a show someday.
I have a lot of fun reading the posts about them.
I would like to hear music from those shows.
Brian stated: The fact that only a couple people have chimed in also tells me we'll likely have to look beyond the current message board users for most of these folks. Hopefully we'll hear from more people soon.
Well, I think maybe a number of folks may be like me. I've been following this thread and I am still digesting what has been said and when I feel I have something worthwhile to contribute, I will. With that I do feel is that even if "We're all in this Together" we are for 40,000 different reasons and it may be hard for some of us to figure out what would be the best for the group verses what would be the best for oneself. Hopefully there could be options that encompas both.
I promise to chime in again at a later point
Steve West Steve's Website
Having read some of the postings by "Gypsy," I can recognize that there are people out there who would only show up when there is something for themselves to gain and then disappear, making judgments about the group from the outside, without bothering to get the full picture or information.
Gypsy says he was invited to a meeting of the Buffalo/Niagara chapter and wasn't interested in attending because it was "in a members garage." Had he bothered to show up - at any meeting- or had he bothered to look closely at what was going on, he would have known that the particular member's "garage" is actually a free standing building, remodeled as a recording studio and rehearsal room,with art on the acoustically treated walls, a carpeted floor, ceiling fans in the cathedral ceiling, a built-in audio/video system, and glass french doors at the entranceway. In short, a very nice place to hold the particular meeting to which he refers. The meeting was well attended by our chapter members who enjoyed an excellent guest speaker (someone with much to offer on the creative process and promotional issues). As with most of our meetings, we ended with a mini-showcase, so that our members could obtain feedback from others on new songs, songs in progress, and arrangements of other tunes.
It's too bad Gypsy chose not to attend the meeting. He obviously resents the fact that his own tavern wasn't chosen as a meeting site, but I find it hard to believe that somebody who has never attended a meeting would think that the group would instantly say "let's all go to this guys bar" just because he posted an invitation.
I have been with the Buffalo/Niagara chapter for years. We have had a number of guest speakers on topics such as songwriting, copyright issues, publishing, PROs, promotion, etc., and more guest-speaker meetings are planned. We have done our own showcases. We have met to critique music that has been submitted, and we provide support as well as time for open discussion on myriad topics.
What Gypsy doesn't seem to understand, and what, perhaps, should also be considered by all Chapters, is that the success of this particular chapter is in part based on the fact that we have a core of dedicated members, who are not only dedicated to JPF, but to eachother. Gypsy is correct that you can find lots of "pat on the back" postings on our Chapter board. That is because the regular members care about eachother. We want to know where members are playing, and we show up to encourage them. If we like something a member has done, we let everyone know. We are not political, although we discuss topics of interest to everyone. We are open to everyone, we love to have new people show up, and we share information on new venues and ideas.
We're all in this together, we're not all in this solely for our own benefit. We also share many of the responsibilities for setting up meetings, showcases, getting speakers, newsletters, etc.
There will always be those people who only show up at chapter meetings when they think they can get some personal gain out of it. It's that way in all organizations. Interest will rise and fall over time. However, as long as there are members who, like our core group, are interested in associating with and helping others, the chapter will continue to flourish.
Stu's post is very informative for why Buffalo and Tampa have been so successful. It's a regular practive for folks in both of those chapter to come here and communicate and check in on what each other are doing. If you scroll down the chapter boards, you'll see that they are the two most active. That's not coincidence. But try as we have, we haven't been able to re-create that phenomena with any method. We've tried requiring people to use them in a variety of ways, but that doesn't work. We've begged and pleaded. Doesn't work. I do think that we may require people performing in a showcase to sign up on the message boards in the future. Because one major benefit is being able to get to know and network with folks you meet at these events. If everyone could come back after a showcase or meeting and talk to any or everyone who was there via the message boards, that's a positive thing. It builds friendship and hopefully would lead to more real "communities" that have developed in Buffalo and Tampa. LA was one of the few chapters that had the friendship and comaraderie of a Tampa chapter without using the boards. But I think a big reason for that is that in the first few years of JPF, I spent more time in LA than anywhere else (including my hometown of Indianapolis) and we did so many events that people actually got to know each other and become friends. I also have more personal friends in Southern California than I have anywhere else (including Indiana). So that might be a reason for the success out there, even though the communication leaves a bit to be desired.. the folks there still know and care about each other.
I see that success and how much that can help folks and I want it to happen for everyone else. I see a little bit of that success creeping in at some other chapters (Seattle seems to have great potential for becoming like a new LA.. there's just an intangible vibe, probably due in large part to Scott Andrew, that seems to be leading in the right direction...) and I know folks like Marty in Western MA not only reaches out to his local folks, but to the surrounding chapters as well.
When you can sit back here and watch all the various chapters in all the various cities and you see the great things and you see the missed opportunities, it's frustrating that we can't figure out how to duplicate the successes and benefits. I know, after 8 years on the road and featuring over 15,000 members live at a showcase, how many amazing and positive things have come from people meeting at those shows and how it has changed peoples lives. That could happen everywhere.. but it takes not only a leader, but some willing followers to get involved and perhaps take a chance of attending some things that might not obviously be a help to them, but which can actually be a big plus in their lives if they are open to it.
Our society in general has shied away from interacting in person. People don't hold dinner parties like they used to. They don't talk to their neighbors. They stay home for entertainment instead of going out. We're trying to buck a major societal trend, but if we can figure out how to do it, everyone will really benefit. You can't create a quicker and closer bond with other humans than to spend time with them directly. Even enemies often find common ground that way. So, let the ideas continue.
[This message has been edited by Gypsy Picker (edited 11-28-2005).]
Gypsy - the October meeting you missed was the one in the "garage" with the guest speaker. There was also a showcase you missed, at the end of October, which was in "a public place" (a very nice tavern, probably one of your competitors). The November meeting you missed was also in a "public place." If you're going to criticize, us, at least get your facts straight.
Good luck to you as well.
[This message has been edited by Gypsy Picker (edited 11-28-2005).]
I think the reasons the Tampa Chapter has been such a big success are:
1) Al Alvarez is a very serious and dedicated coordinator. He lives this.
2) There really isn't any other similar way for musicians in the Tampa area to meet, so it has fulfilled a definite need. The only other thing close is the local NSAI chapter. But its focus is entirely on song critiques for serious songwriters who are willing to fork up $150/yr (I am an NSAI member, also, as are about 20% of our Tampa JPF members). Places like NY, Nashville, LA probably have a lot of other things happening which fulfill the needs for the local musician that the Tampa Chapter is providing.
3) We in the Tampa Bay area realize that we are all in this together, and what helps one of us often helps all of us. Most everyone who has been in the chapter for more than a half a year has seen dramatic advancement towards their musical goals. We have all learned how helping each other often helps ourselves. So we are not so competitive with each other as possibly some other areas.
That said, we still could do better. We have vast collective knowledge about much in the music industry. We need to be better at sharing this knowledge with each other so each of us isn't reinventing the wheel.
retro pop-rock original music www.stonemarmot.com www.soundclick.com/stonemarmot.htm www.myspace.com/stonemarmot
Hmmm.. membership just passed 38,000. 26,000 people sent a CD in for the awards this year. The last roadtrip this summer had 1000 different artists perform. The website traffic has doubled in the last 6 months. I am not sure what you are referring to that our membership is ebbing or even the participating. The Chapters have been a struggle on various levels for years. It's not related to membership or growth or even participation. It's more of a change in what folks need now that the internet has changed the playing field on nearly every level. People used to go to org. meetings to get info, feedback and network. Now you can do all that on a zillion message boards and websites any time you want. Add to that that people aren't going out to do anything these days. Concert attendance is way down. Movie attendance is way down (only ticket price increases has kept business flat there). Clubs are half empty or worse most of the time. Even major rock stars are losing their butt on tours that used to sell out. Folks are staying home.. surfing the net, watching movies on demand and listening to a zillion free songs on their iPods. Rather than give up, we've tried many approaches. But the #1 issue is always getting people out in person to participate. The Roadtrips never fail to bring out the masses. But I can't be everywhere every year like I used to. So we keep looking for formulas to find out what people want and what would interest them enough to come out in person rather than surfing this message board or waiting for me to come around. I think you got negative responses to your posts because your posts were negative to start with. I wasn't even aware that there were factual problems with your post (which Stu pointed out). And I had already moved past it. But I did point out that the people who are showing up and doing the work would likely be offended by your post and obviously they were.
I have no idea who you are (I actually thought you were a female for some reason but Stu seems to think you're a male). If you have something to add and share.. please do. But you have to realize that if you insult people, especially without giving them a chance to show you otherwise, they are going to be offended.
I have another approach. What if we have Representatives and Chapter Coordinators both. In cities where folks want to have actual events (like the ones outlined above) we have chapter coordinators. Everywhere else we have Representatives who only handle communication and community activism issues as well as the message boards and who don't have to do any live events? Just another idea.
Just to confuse matters more,. I think his name is Gary, although he tried to tell us its Scott. And another word of advice; Ya can't argue with a lawyer. Its like sword fightin with Zorro or p...spittin into the wind...
Brian, I thought that Gypy was a woman also. I would have known otherwise if he had attened one of our meetings. Frank V.
Hi Brian, my two cents for what it's worth.
First off, JPF IS the great leveller and accessible at any time. It is the ultimate "customer pull" market for musicians wanting to share their craft with others in the business. The same cannot be said for getting people together in the same room. Here schedules and priorities conflict, "dedication" to the craft and growth differs, talent differs, available alternatives differ etc. Hence to get people into the same venue (not necessarily the same "place"), repeatedly, with the same quality of "attraction", is a difficult feat. In Toronto we have a very active Songwriters Association of Canada with several venues, and it also flows and ebbs.
Second, the quality of a chapter is directly dependent on the quality of the co ordinators. They have to be interested in doing the job repeatedly, and be sufficiently plugged in to put a good meeting together. Al in TBay sounds like a special guy.
Third, chapters have to fully embrace the vision of JPF and bring it to the local level with the zeal of a missionary...and constantly promote the JPF message. "We're All In This Together" is a great slogan, but it is empty without a more comprehensive plan and necessary tools to "win new customers". This needs an awful lot of resources and dedication at the local level...something difficult to achieve with a part time co ordinator.
Not to throw a wrench into your dream, it's just the reality as I see it from my narrow vantage point as one who writes and plays for a hobby.
From my "professional" point of view, I think you have to decide on what you fundamentally want to be. An internet based vehicle that draws a global audience and has local chapters based on interest and part time people, or a chapter based organization that has a great website pople can use.
From what you say, you'd like to move from the first situation the the second....but you lack the resources to make it happen. In the back of your mind, perhaps you are planning for succession, and making it a "political" organization by which you can influence the industry may work, because you attract a different kind of co ordinator. But you know yourself that channeling the energies of creative types into a coherent model is kinda like herding hungry cats....plus its going to take money. Plus it's a fundamental change to JPF, even while its still within the "We're All In This Together" spirit.
I guess the bottom line I see is that strong local chapters begin with motivated, well equipped people who buy into the JPF vision and are zealous about spreading the message. That means the right people like Al and I'm sure others, and the required resources to help them succeed. Which boils down to message and money. Part of the message you have....the money's an on going issue.
Here's a thought. Sell local JPF franchises. Develop value in a chapter, and have locals run it like a business. JPF could be an industry force, a record label, a "nurturer" etc all in one. Maybe a local chapter is an alliance of a music store, recording facilities, venue etc. Nothing like a healthy dose of self interest to motivate the locals....
That's my simple stream of consciousness
Hope there's a nugget in there for you.
I think an interesting issue at hand is that I've never seen JPF as an internet based anything. Because I spent so much more of my time with members in person and/or dealing with non web activities like the music awards, the website is, to me, a simple supplement to everything else. I understand why you and others who spend their time on the boards see it differently, but we've proven that as active as some are here on the boards, that doesn't translate at all to the real world. Conversely, the folks who are the most active in the real world are rarely if ever active on this board (with the exception of a small handful of people). The fact that only 1 out of 4 or 5 current members are registered on the message boards makes it clear that this is a niche within the larger group. It would make life easier if folks all came here to network, but they do, and after 7+ years, it's clear they aren't going to any time soon. If 1 out of 5 current members are registered here, ironically less than 1 in 10 or maybe more like 1 in 20 or 30 of the regular message board users ever attend any real life events. So as indifferent as a group the entire membership is about the website, the folks on the website message boards are even more disinterested in chapters, music awards, roadtrips or anything else we do. I bet there aren't 200 people who take advantage (even occassionally) of both sides of that fence.
Because I agree that it's very tough even for well funded groups with paid staff to get people involved face to face regularly, it seemed the "event" approach of 3 or 4 total events per year is a better idea. It also hopefully will encourage folks who aren't as interested in meeting monthly or doing showcases etc.. a chance to get involved as a representative without having to bear the other burdens associated with a regular chapter today. We never have problems getting people to volunteer to start or run chapters. But literally only 1 in 50 ever do a single thing to move forward. I am not exaggerating. We had 150 new people offer to help start (or take over) a chapter and only about 3 of them ever did a single tangible thing to do so in the last go round we had with this. So people seem to want to be involved and we just need to figure out what it is they want to do or feel comfortable doing so we can take advantage of that interest. If running monthly meetings is too overwhelming for folks, then perhaps working to organize a couple events with months in between will be less intimidating. Plus, we could probably streamline the process so that new folks could have an outline of how to do each event from all the others who had gone before. And if we have more representation (i.e. similar to the US Congressional Districts) folks could actually attend multiple showcases or events if they wanted in a reasonable distance from their home. (Unless of course they live in Alaska or North Dakota).
As for our motto, it's really more of a fact than wishful thinking. We're all in this together.. whether we like it or not.. it seems better to work together for everyone's benefit than working alone or like some of the trolls and scam artists on the web, working against everyone.
If a critical mass of folks also spent a lot of time here, we could do a lot more on the site. But as I said above, the boards appeal to some and repel others. No 1 thing can do it all, so we'd like to offer as many options as we can to keep the diverse interests involved.
I have known about JPF for 4 years now , and have met a lot of great people who have given me a new determination to pursue my musical future. Even though the Atlanta chapter has been a fizzle, Tammy and Amber have done their best with what they have had in the way of support. In the last year, I have performed at the upstate s.c. music festival, which I found out about in this forum. I also did 2 Colgate Country showdown local auditions as well as auditioning for Nashville Star. I would not have been aware of any of these events if it had not been for this forum!
I have learned a great deal about music through meeting people like you,Brian, along with Al,Doc and Andy from Tampa.You have shown us how it can be if we truly work together towards a goal. I am ready to do what it takes to help push JPF here in my congressional district or any other format you think will work. I will work more closely with Tammy and Amber to work on Atl.
Happy Thanksgiving! James
Ya know, I noticeced a post that mentioned not feeling comfortable unless they met and played publicly.
I feel most comfortable playing in someones basement or room.
Is anyone like me on that?
I dont have any grand ideas to put forth on how to configure the chapters, but I have a couple of things that I can do from where I am to help the group in seattle.
out of the 30 or 40 artists that I have been lucky enough to rub elbows with at the showcases - only 4 or 5 have I seen on the boards, and only Scott Andrew and Howling Hobbit have posted regularly.
I have run across a couple of amateur musicians that I have sent this way but for the most part the folks at the showcases dont need the boards except when they have a question or a special gig coming up. which would be about twice a year judging from the posts.
I have run across several people who really could use the lyric and mp3 boards, and I tell them when I find them.
getting back to the things I can do personally.
I can start posting more in the seattle boards asking for usefull information from the professional musicians that I may not need but someone who is just looking around might. Theres a lot of folks who are looking for information but dont know exactly what they are looking for until they find it.
secondly, when my holiday overtime paycheck comes in I am joining a local musicians support group called Victory Music. http://www.victorymusic.org/
I can join as a musician but I think it might be better to join as an organization.
They dont have a message board, they do have a musicians referal, they hold open mics at several different places every week. If its possible to join as a member of JPF then that would send more puget sound musicians here and those here to them for the things JPF cant currently do.
If I cant join as an organization then I will just join as a musician and point them here anyway.
I have made it no secret that you are one of my heros/mentors because of your understanding of the past and your vision of the future. You are not afraid to step up to the plate of controversy if you feel it will better a musician's life. Never before in my musical history have I seen so many people turn a blind-musical eye to what is happening in our world...It took Katrina to bring out some musicians...to take a stand and give support to people with their music. Where are the Pete Seegers/Bob Dylans/Buffy St. Maries/Joan Baezs/Sweet Honey in the Rocks who will , through their music, write and record our true history? Blah Blah Blah...sorry for the wordiness, all I am trying to say is your vision of musicians using their voice, taking on the responsiblility and really giving each other support is phenominal. Bob Geldof is being presented in Rome with the 'Man for Peace' award...awesome!
Chris VonTanner http://www.screamlikeagirl.com
I hav'nt seen sites to where I have seen as much interest in what the members want as here.
The Internet medium still is not that old.
It took years for the rock scene to develop and go through their twists and turns to blossom into what it is (or was, some would say).
With the growing membership, Brian, maybe that should be enough to tell you that you don't need to change anything.
It is just that most of us have never seen each other on here, at least that I'm aware of.
A get together from the net still seems like a new concept, at least to me. And there are some that are not that active musically outside of a hobby or as a start to something, and some don't even gig.
I like the lower key approach here.
It makes people feel a lot more comfortable to post (at least me), because it is more of an actual place for songwriting and being more in it together.
Besides, it is a lot smoother with the computer not having all those banner ads.
Just making a topic asking what members want now and then is good enough for me.
I just hope that if you implement them, it is not tired, savvy marketing ideas like some would have.
As my fellow chapter member Andy voiced, we have a dedicated leader here in Tampa.
We also have many different musicians and songwriters who play and write at different levels. I think everyone needs to ask themselves what do I want from JPF and music in general. With few exceptions most can not go it alone in this industry without help from other players, writers, etc. I have watched this chapter grow and network and I believe it's because we have learned to like each other and share our abilities. We have more people helping each other on their songs than we can keep track of. Many were hesitant at first to share the stage, consider a re-write, play back-up for someone else. Now we do it all the time. Our JPF backing band stays very busy learning each others music.
We didn't say from the get go "what's in this for me", however, we found there is alot in this for me. Getting to know each other takes time. When that happens, networking and support for each other grows at an astounding rate. I personnally know at least 20 or more songs of our members and several of our members know that many and more. We back each other up for many occasions outside the meetings and showcases all of which would not have been possible had we not spent the time to know each other. When we get lax in that department our leader Al knows what buttons to push. As Andy said we can improve more in our meetings by spending less time playing and more speakers, etc. I do think the showcase brought us together in the first place and keeps us growing. The greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
I'm still thinking about what I'm going to say but I just want you all to know that I'm following this thread with great interest.
I will say that consolidation of ownership of recording and media companies has choked off the means of musical expression in our world and that worries me as I bet it worries Brian too.
It can't hurt to have a more concerted effort at communicating with our members of Congress about what matters to us.
I've been busy entertaining out of town family and havnt had much time for business let alone the internet. I have however been keeping up on the T-Bay message board (very slow this week, but thats to be expected)and I have been folllowing this thread from time to time.
First I understand why Brian is looking to add new ideas to the chapter concept and agree this may be a way to inhance activity in areas that have been hard nuts to crack for the chapter program. As he also stated existing chapter that do work can keep the ball rolling with what has been working for them. Good.
Here's my take on the last three years as chapter coordinator of one of the most productive chapter in the JPF family.
The Tampa Bay Chapter is successful because we work at it. It's as simple as that. Nothing good comes without effort and some sacrafice.But it also has to be FUN.
Because I work for myself (I'm a Realtor with a home office)I have total control over my work day. I check our boards throughout the day and 'try' not to let anyones post go unanswered. We are consistant in our showcases/meetings, usually on the last Sunday of the month. This gives us something to look forward to as well as a time frame in which to prepare new material for showcasing.
I choose venues where we can order a meal and a cool beverage and if need be a smoke "outside". Somewhere where there is a stage with p.a. and lights. When we showcase, we are showcasing.
And we make it about networking. The first 45 minutes to an hour is strictly networking. If I see a new face I will greet them and ask them to fill out a breif contact info sheet and introduce them to a few of the regulars.That regular member will inturn introduce them to others. After addressing the chapter with issues concerning local musicians and or items of interest for JPF I will ask for those with any announcements to come up and share. Involvement. Its our chapter.
We have had guest speakers in the past. This is something I have let slip this past year but its on the top of my list for 2006.
We have key members who help...
Cindy LaRosa is not only one of our more professional members but has taken the reigns in organizing a chapter holiday party on December 11th.
Jerry Jakala not only plays with the backing band (Horsefeathers) but is out networking and supporting many of the folks who do play out and posting on the T-Bay message board. I will announce him as co-cordinator this Holiday party.
Dan Copeland orchestrates Horsefeathers and has been with us since day one. Andy Karpinski, Alex Wolfe Parnes are key players in Horsefeathers. I could go on but the point is that we can count on these folks because they know that they can count on the chapter. We actually had to cancel our October meeting and showcase which was a very hard judgement call and it took an impending huricaine to do that. CONSISTANCY.
These past three years I have been lucky to meet through this chapter some great folks who have become true friends. It has inspired me to be a better musician, and promoter. You have to look at the big picture here when you get involved. There is something here for everyone and it blows me away that all chapters arent blockbusting.
Tampa Bay Chapter Coordinator
"Chapter of the Year"
Just Plain Folks www.aandrproductions.com
See my "Just Plain Folks" page at my site and meet many of your fellow JPFers of T-Bay.
"Remember, If you don't make a big deal about yourself, don't expect anyone else to".
Hi... I really don't have any sugestions with regard to Brian's quest for ideas. Since there are no chapters near me, I am totally a JPF internet junkie. I've entered discussions and collabed with other JPF-ers and I think building that kind of relationship over the net is very valuable.
If there was a local chapter (and I did volunteer to help start one several months ago and have never been contacted with any info (I asked twice)).
Several songwriters I know joined together to create a songwriting circle and we try to get together once a month to share our music with each other. Many of our members would not be up to performing their work in public - they are too shy or they don't play or their work isn't ready - but we have talked about having a circle in a small coffee house where we'd help each other present songs. Because of the time involved in creating that, it probably would be 3 or 4 times per year. We just had a meeting last night, with 10 people, and we feel that 10 to 12 people is all we could manage in terms of group size, to retain the great kitchen-table easiness with each other.
I suppose I'm a skeptic too... I can see if if we started invited others to play 'showcases' - lots of musicans might come out to play - but I bet very few would be committed to being part of the organizing & administration. I've been there.
In short, I suppose I don't really have a concrete thing to say... except that, if it were me coordinating the local chapter, 3 or 4 times a year would be better.
hope that makes some sort of sense,
Vikki Flawith, Canadian Singer/Songwriter & Voice Teacher
This bird sings at: www.vikkiflawith.com Vikki on MySpace UnCommon Sense - a Wise Bird's Blog The Shy Singer-Songwriter's Blog
I delayed responding to this thread until I had time to really sit and read it through.
Picking up on Doug's comments about the Seattle chapter (thanks for chiming in, Doug!), we started this past Spring with showcases only. We've had three so far, and every one of them has been packed
, sometimes with 4 or 5 hours' worth of performers. Everyone seems to really enjoy the showcases and the camraderie. I'm in the stages of planning the next one for early 2006.
That said, there (so far) has been zero interest in meetings. Which is probably okay since I really don't know what we'd talk about each month.
I made an attempt to put together one guest speaker/workshop during the summer, but it didn't work out. I'd like to give it another whirl after the holidays. The Gig Club in Tacoma rocks in this aspect; I'm hoping they'll come back in 2006.
From what I can tell, the songwriter scene (as in people who write songs for artists, as in Nashville) is not very strong. There are a handful of writers (Sue Ennis is local to us, I believe) but that's about it. The majority seem to write their own material.
I'm not sure how we'd pull off a networking dinner. No one can afford houses here
Those that do probably don't have the space. If we took it to a venue or something we'd have to think about catering, or come up with some creative solution.
I'm honestly not sure what to make of the idea of taking positions on political issues. I'd feel more comfortable just aligning ourselves with the Future Of Music Coalition, who seem to do an excellent job of balancing the issues. I do enough arguing on this board to zero or little effect
Scott Andrew Lo-fi acoustic pop superhero! http://www.scottandrew.com/music
I'm jumping in here feeling a little less knowledgable in the whole Chapters thing than most. I've only attended one Toronto Chapter meeting in the past 2 years, although I think there haven't been any lately. I also attended the roadtrip this past June.
So the suggestion I'm about to make pertains more to the Toronto Chapter, and others like it (and not so much for the thriving Chapters). And I apologize ahead of time if these chapters have already tried something like this.
What if we started out with an every-2nd-month schedule of gatherings. And every gathering only featured 3 or 4 artists who had a 2 hour period to showcase their old songs, new songs, half-written songs, etc. Artists could rotate one song at a time (acoustically), taking turns for the 2 hour period, with a social break somewhere in the middle, or at the end. The motivation to show up at another artist's showcase would be that you'd want those same people to show up to yours. The artist's rotating their performances would cure the problem of artists leaving after their set.
And similar to the way that we sign up for the Road Trip, members would have to email the co-ordinator to sign up for the month that they're interested in.
In the Fall/Winter leading up to the new year, they would begin signing up for the next year. If all 6 months fill up quickly, then new showcases could be added.
Depending on the number of people showing up, the venue could be a small cafe, or even someone's house. Very casual and supportive though. Non- JPFers and friends of the performers could also be invited to round out the audience.
Again, I apologize if this has already been tried and tested. I'm just thinking out loud here.
Actually Jenny Toomey the founder/CEO of the Future of Music is very enthusiastic about working with us on this. She thinks we're the right group to pull something like this off and they have a ton of polticial connections, but very few actual artists on their email list. (ironic since they try all the time to get more and they do more tangible political things for indie artists/writers than anyone else in history has). So it's not only with their blessing but with their support and desire to participate that we are considering this approach.
We've found out that featured showcases, unless it's a rare thing that features well known artists or folks who have some specific level of interest beyond just being members (i.e. male artist of the year or songwriter of the year or something of that nature) or are already well known (i.e. someone who packs rooms already) members who aren't performing won't show up. It's possible they will once or twice if the talent is very good and the show very enjoyable, but even in those cases, attendance will immediately drop and eventually it will simply be the featured artists playing to nobody. I've always learned that even with famous/successful artists in a featured slot (i.e. say everyone plays a song and a featured artist does 3-5 songs) that seems to alienate people. We've had a couple of exceptions (Steve Seskin did a featured set of 4 songs I think at a San Diego showcase we did that was also filled with award winners and nominees) and that was cool. But LA tried to do featured shows and it flopped and pretty much killed the entire showcase process which, up to that time, had been reasonably successful. The only way to get the masses out is for the masses to be directly involved in the performances, even if it's only 1 song. I've learned that first hand from the last 8 years.
The other problem with featured shows is that it's brutal to have a terrible performer participate and ruin it for everyone. But, we like to give everyone a shot to participate. So how do you feature someone without saying no to those who aren't ready to be featured without pissing people off? One solution we've tried is to only feature award nominees/winners. But sometimes even in those cases they aren't great performers. I can't tell you how many great albums we get from people that are truly awful live. (I got burned a couple times early on when I told industry folks about an artist who was coming to a show after hearing their album and then when they performed live they were terrible.. ). So that's a risk too. No one really wants to sit through 15 minutes (let alone 2 hours) of non filtered talent. Even the most supportive folks in the world won't stand for that very long.
There's no question that chapters usually quickly turn into 1 of 3 things.
1. Very performance oriented on a pro level with little interest in meetings or workshops.
2. Very songwriter oriented with no interest in showcases or live situations.
3. Very entry level folks (writers or artists) only who scare off the veterans who think there's nothing in it for them or are turned off by the amateur vibe of the chapter.
So that's a definite issue to contemplate with chapters. That's why I thought a smaller slate of events, one that will appeal to each of the common segements of the group, is the way to go. Showcases for the live folks, networking meetings/dinner etc.. for the socialable folks who want to meet others but don't want to perform (or aren't really ready to yet) and a workshop that, depending on the topic, could appeal to entry level, mid level or advance writers or artists.
We've had chapters who have never wanted to have a showcase and others who have never had a meeting. We have one that rarely does anything but have networking events and that's it, no showcases, no workshops at all.
Keep the feedback coming.
Hi Brian and everyone-
I'm not sure I am qualified to tell you what to do Brian--- You really tell it like it is. I just offer my view of JPF that you may see something in it---
I come to these boards way more often than my post count reflects. I READ. ALOT. Scott, Whitesides, Brian, Sub, Graham, alot of people have come and gone (redwriter).... I have read alot of what they've said. They are way more advanced than I am in understanding many of the concepts involved at these boards. When I first started a few years ago, i didn't understand SO MUCH of the jargon. I now proudly say I get SOME of it.
Copyrights, recording, vocal techniques, perfomance.... I have learned alot. I actually am going to make my own CD starting in a few weeks, and the questions I asked as I interviewed studios were all learned here. I may know a little about what to expect and what to look for during my sessions from what I've read here, though I may not have posted much. Don't underestimate the value of the knowledge here and the nice people who share it just because of a common love of music AND don't think that it alone isn't enough. It's invaluable to people like me.
I have several posts in the Chicago chapter about how sad it is that hardly anyone uses it. One of the Tampaites said that it fills a need because they don't have alot to go to other than what they do. This is likely how small population chapters are. However, in Chicago, there's a million things to do. It needs to be different here. I do have one suggestion that could work to get more people here involved on the boards, which then they'd be more likely to be involved in other JPF stuff. Let all JPFers post on these boards about their GIGS. So what!!! Let it START with the selfish reason of everyone wanting a place to help generate traffic to their shows. OK? Now, if this gets off the ground and let's say it Wed and I want to see what I want to do this weekend! I go the JPF Chicago and see where all my friends are gigging! At least they're coming to the board. Then they may read something, add something, I dunno. Just put in the newsletter or something that you want everyone to feel free to advertise their gigs on your boards. I know generally here, when anyone posts here for a selfish reason they get ignored, but if ENCOURAGED (just in the chapter areas) it could help. Give them a reason, even if it's free advertising. No skin off of your back, I believe! The skeleton is already here. Maybe people would start checking here instead of the local rag. Let's say you wanted to know what kind of music they played, or if they had new stuff to do (i hate when someone does exactly the same songs you saw last time). You could ask them here, make it interactive. I dunno, does that make any sense? You have to lead a horse to water before they can drink.
It IS brutal to go to a showcase and suffer through a bad performer (especially when your wife isn't that thrilled about coming anyway)Make DIFFERENT showcases with the entry level performers and work up to the pros. The best entry guy can work up to a more middle showcase with a good performance. This gives incentive to try and do well, as well as if the entry level people don't have to play for the pros, just each other, they'll have more fun. They might come to the middle one to gauge their readiness. I hope I'm not rambling here.
Brian, NOTHING matches when you come to town for a showcase. I had SO MUCH fun at every one. People come out of the woodworks. The 43 person one at the blues bar was great. I WAS disappointed you didn't make it here this year (I wanted to show you how improved a performer I am), but I understand how busy you are.
JPF is an invaluable resource to me and I can't wait to get my CD done and see what JPFers think about it.
Just bumpin' 'er to the top.
Good discussion, folks.
Yeah, here in Hillbilly Hollywood, nothing works better than a Brian appearance. Nashville's a funny place. It's like Brian said earlier, there are amateurs, pros, and cons here and they usually don't mix well.
And here's an example of one of the problems we face...I've gotta leave for Arkansas in a half hour, so I'll be back to read more of this Sunday night. Maybe when I can afford a Blackberry? Of course now they're being sued!
All the Best,
You have to practice improvisation. -Art Tatum Mike Dunbar Music
I think this discussion has been helpful to get some topics out. It seems to me that the "tool" of having a slate of representatives in each congressional district to utilize politically is something we need to create. I am not sure how we match that with the chapter program and perhaps they are really 2 separate things.
The challenge, of course, would be to find 435 JPF Reps to mirror the Congressional Districts. That means mobilizing well over 1% of our membership to get actively involved at a much higher level than the average member and on a voluntary basis. The question is if that is even possible?
So have emailed me off line saying that perhaps this project could turn into an actual independent political party in the future. Though there are all sorts of fun ideas that could spring out of that, if we do something like that, then we won't get any support or cooperation from either of the two main parties and I am not sure what good it could do. I've actually considered getting involved personally as a State Rep or State Senator here in Indiana, but as an independent, it's a gigantic financial uphill battle. Frankly, I wish we didn't have parties and only slates of candidate names. I think then folks could make decisions based on what was right for their constituents instead of blindly following 1 party. What really stinks is that even when Republicans and Democrats agree on issues, they feel compelled to be against whatever the other party favors for solely political reasons. My optimistic hope is that a group like us, at least on our small number of issues, can be the bridge between the two so instead of agreeing with each other, they are agreeing with us little guys in the grassroots community.
Well, I was curious, so here is a website where you can print out the US Congressional
Districts for those with inquiring minds http://nationalatlas.gov/printable/congress.html
Steve West Steve's Website
I'm sick today, I think the Buffalo Bills gave me the flu, and all I was doin was watching. Anyway, most other organizations that I have had the pressure (pleasure) of belonging to usually had what are referred to as "standing committees". Being that we are loosely organized it would'nt hurt to initiate a couple to see how they work.
For an example: If you have a chapter that is mostly performance oriented standing committees would possibly be;
Get my drift?? Its kind of like having officers, i.e. Lord of the board, Secretary/Scribe, Treasurer etc.
Nothing says that you can't change titles to more aptly apply to your own organization.
It all boils down to organization. Like having an agenda to run a meeting. It helps you make sure that you touch all the bases. Right from the Greeting; to Old Business; to New Business; to assorted Committee Reports; to a debate for the good of the organization and Closing. You have to know where you have been to know where you are going.
Just my two and a half cents.
Thank you for JPF!
I'm new here, but an old fart at cutting thru and getting to the bottom line.
I first want to volunteer my help in anyway possible to keep JPF going and growing.
I have taken the time to read almost every word of this discussion.
Here's what I see, and represents my opinion...
The potential political aspirations of the group are undefined and perhaps a little
off in target and timing.
When we consider what was said is waning interest in meetings, board participation, showcases, etc.., I don't believe we will be winning over those casuals with a voice in Washington.
It sounds good, but not if the homefires are needing fuel, then focus on the fire, and then follow the money...
People are motivated to help themselves, and the great people, to help others.
Besides money, that is what it is all about. That is why there is inconsistency.
People join JPF because they think they can use it in some way to help others or themselves in their musical aspirations.
We need to focus on tweaking the individual cities that need help. The multiple manager idea is good for that area..
But the political focus should be in getting our most talented members out there. Out where?
I don't profess to know your business at JPF, but I do know business.
Here is what's wrong with the world. We need to have a brain spooge and see into the next five years.
What's going to happen that is most important?
The best independent artists are going to achieve platinum success using the net as their primary voice. Speculation? Is that happening now? Mostly no. But it will.
How? Some net geniuses somewhere are going to say, why don't we work together to televise, promote, and sell everything?
Sounds a little like record company/radio station group/retail collusion doesn't it?
Oh, some will say that's fairly wishful. It aint.
It's going to happen, with the primary source being a force of independent net entrepenuers forged together, pushing their best right at the public. The smart guys are the ones who will be in the middle of it.
Is this hype? No.
I've been a TV Sales Manager for 20 years, and I can tell you that the proliferation of the net, fiber optic data, satellite, is 1000 times more pervasive than television. And as you know, we are not having to wait 20 years to see the massive changes. It is happening now. Ask Comcast..
We used to say that the greatest part of television commercials were that you could take your product right into the endusers living room.
There's so much more interaction and direct commerce potential on the net that it truly is overwhelming to think about it. But we need to.
If we aren't planning to be part of it, then we will have to watch the Bill Gates type guys do it. I hate crying in my soup. I hate crying.
We need to think of lots of ways to rise up to this awesome opportunity while it is still there.
Maybe we're barking up the same tree Brian.
Maybe not. But what we are talking about here is probably why you started JPF, network, help, organize. Great things, only much larger. Can it be done? Yes. Will we be part of it?
Now we need to take steroids and form coalitons with the others who are busy making monies at lower and higher levels,
in order that we may control our part of the new Nashville (so to speak) that is right in front of us, if we could only see it.
There are lots of really interesting ideas here. I'm not sure yet what to contribute..will do some thinking about it and get back to this one at a later date...
Great job bringing up some very important issues