Provided by Emily D'Amour from “Books and Books” in Miami


Brush Up on Your Etiquette!

Punk Rock Etiquette, that is. Host a Teen Band Night at your Bookstore!

What? You didn’t think your shop could double as a hip alternative music venue? You didn’t sign up for the concert promotion class when you opened your bookstore?

Never fear, hosting a Teen Band Nights are easier than you think. In one fell swoop you will:

* Appeal to the elusive 13-17 year-old set and identify the movers and shakers in the teen community who can help plan future successful events
* Host an event that your local media outlets will gobble right up and give you lots of free splashy publicity
* Sell more copies of Travis Nichols’s Punk Rock Etiquette (and other awesome YA books) than you ever thought possible

How do you accomplish such a trifecta? Just follow these simple steps.

PICK A PLACE AND TIME

First, you have to identify a venue and date for the band night. Friday and Saturday nights are the obvious choices (just check to be sure it’s not a holiday weekend, there isn’t a big game scheduled, and prom is not looming on the horizon). In terms of venue, outside is great. A patio, courtyard, roped-off parking lot, playing field will do. You are at the mercy of the elements, but rocking out under the stars is the best. One thing to keep in mind— POWER. You will need to have access to a bunch of outlets so don’t commit to a venue before you’ve checked out the electrical. Also check your city’s noise ordinances and make sure that your venue won’t put you in the doghouse with all your neighbors. If you opt for an inside venue, look at gyms, youth centers, warehouses, gallery spaces, lumber yards, etc. The more off-beat and alternative the better. Don’t book band night in an auditorium. Your audience does not want to sit in nice neat rows and tap their feet while they listen to a cover of Operation Ivy.

Ok, so, now you’ve set the date, Friday, August XX from 7-10pm and picked the parking lot behind your store as the venue. On to booking the bands.

INDENTIFY AND CONTACT BANDS

1. Put a call out for bands in your newsletter. Ask interested parties to drop off a demo or point you to a website where you can hear some tracks.
2. Ask customers and staff members who have kids in high school to ask around about potential groups.
3. Contact the music directors at the high schools in the area to see if they know of students with bands.
4. Contact some of the local bars who host live acts. They might be able to give you some leads on young groups looking for exposure.
5. Bands usually know each other. Once you identify one band, ask them what other groups might be interested. Check out their MySpace pages for links to other bands.

Don’t worry about music style. You will get bands who play Ska, Punk, Rock, Indie Rock, Reggae. Don’t worry about booking more than one type of music, just concentrate on getting good groups who will put on a good show.

For a three-hour band night, you probably want to book 3 or 4 bands. Estimate that each band will play a 30-40 minute set and plan on at least 15-20 minutes of down time between each band for breakdown and set-up.

LOCK IN A DJ

DJing is almost as popular as having a band nowadays, so in your search for acts, try to identify a high school kid who DJs. Check with some of the local Bat/Bar Mitzvah and birthday party venues in town. Parents sometimes hire teenagers to DJ parties. The DJ is key because he/she keeps the party going while the bands are switching their gear. He/She also can serve as an emcee for the evening, giving the event more authenticity than if you got up there and started making announcements.

NEGOTIATING WITH THE TALENT

What can you offer bands and DJs if they play at your Teen Band Night? (They’re playing for free, remember.):
1. EXPOSURE—Their name and logo will be on all your flyers and promo materials. If the media picks up the story, then they will get publicity that way as well.
2. RETAIL OPPORTUNITY—Many bands have CDs, t-shirts, bumper stickers. Allow them to sell their merch at your Band Night.
3. FOOD—If you have a café at your store and you can swing it, offer to cover dinner for band members. Give them vouchers for that evening that they can redeem with the waiter.
4. FRIENDS—bands that you will book will suffer from one of two problems: 1. They are so new and so underground they haven’t had many chances to play in a public setting, so their friends have never really had to opportunity to see them perform. 2. The band is good and gets gigs, but most are at bars where there is a cover charge and the audience is over 21, so friends don’t often get to see them in action. You can offer your bands the chance to invite friends to come and rock out without having to fork over $20 or steal their older sibling’s ID.

EQUIPMENT

Ok, now you’ve booked the bands and the DJ. Talk to all of them about their equipment needs and see if any of them will volunteer to bring the mixing board, monitors, mics etc. for all the bands to use. You may have to give them $100 or so if they agree to do it. Make sure they have someone who can run the equipment, too. If none of the bands can provide this, contact your local Guitar Center, Musicians Discount Center, etc. and talk to them about renting equipment. You can probably get what you need for under $300. Not sure what to ask for? Talk to the bands. For the most part, they are really knowledgeable about what their audio needs are and can give you very specific instructions about what to rent.

You’ll also need to think about lighting since by the end of the night your hip, outside location will be dark. You don’t need much lighting, just some spots so the bands can see what they are doing.

There is no need for a stage or dance floor. You can have a few tables and chairs, but really, the kids will just end up pushing them out of the way to make room for dancing—skanking and moshing being the preferred methods.

PROMOTION

Now you have to get the word out about the show. Talk to the kids in the bands about making flyers. Often there is a budding graphic designer/cartoonist/urban artist among them who would love the opportunity to design a poster. You can also pull off hip backgrounds from istockphoto.com. Give the posters to all the bands to post at school and on their Facebook and MySpace pages. Send something out to your email list about the event. Send the flyers/posters to all the same places you contacted for leads on bands and to local merchants who attract the teen crowd. Make a display of cool YA books in your store along with the poster and maybe do a promo giving discounts to people who purchase books from the display.

On your flyer you need to include:

Date, Time, Location
The name of your event — "Teen Band Night" is kind of lame
FREE! FREE! FREE!
The bands who are playing, the DJ who is spinning, and any sponsors/charities

MAKE IT MEANINGFUL

It’s great to add a fundraising component to your event. This will make it even more newsworthy; you’ll have another outlet to promote the event (the charity’s mailing list); and you’ll had a feel-good, socially responsible element to your band night:
50/50 Raffle to benefit The Children’s Home Society
New or Gently-Used Book Donation to benefit The Juvenile Justice Center Library
15% of sales that evening benefit a local charity. (You can also allow the charity to giveout their own flyers and buttons at the event.)

FOOD

If you have a café, offer discounts on food and coffees, etc. If you want to really go all out, contact a local pizza parlor or ice cream shop and try to strike a deal with them to provide food that evening. They may give you free stuff or may give you a really good discount. If you get pizza, be prepared to go through the pies really, really quickly.

BOOKS

That’s what you’re in the business to sell, right? It’s great to pick a book to feature at the event. Put it in the flyer, invite the author to the show and let him/her talk about the book a little bit in between sets. Come up with a cool game to play at the event based on the book. Punk Rock Etiquette by Travis Nichols is the perfect book for a Teen Band Night. If you choose to feature his book, you can do a “Pack Your Bags for The Tour” relay race. Just bring in three garbage bags full of old clothes dump the clothes out 50’ away from the starting line. Get three teams or “bands” of 5 people each. Each one has to grab a different part of an outfit (shirt, pants, 2 socks (must be matching), boxer shorts), put it in the bag and run back to hand off the bag to the next “band member.” Another fun twist is to “Dress the Band Member.” Same set up as “Pack Your Bags” only you have to dress a member of your band (over their clothes of course). Raid a thrift store for great giant ugly articles of clothing. The first band to finish wins and gets a copy of the book! You can also do a “Test Your Punk Rock Etiquette” contest and ask questions like:

For The Amateur:
Bands break up because of:
a. Failed Relationships
b. Creative differences
c. Divergent priorities
d. Egos
e. Lack of talent
f. Lack of seriousness
g. Lots of reasons, that’s why you need to read this book!

For the Serious Band Member:
“Name three things that ensure you won’t get kicked out of your band.”
1. Date the lead singer (this could backfire if the relationship ends)
2. Own the van
3. Be, like, amazing at all your instrument(s)
4. Own the majority of the equipment
5. Provide the practice space
6. Book the shows
7. Be the offspring of a celebrity/industry-type
8. Be nice.

For the Rock Star Legend:
“Your band is going to record some tracks in a studio setting. You’re the drummer, what do you need to outfit your kit with?”
1. A rack tom
2. A floor tom
3. A kick
4. A snare
5. Hi-hats
6. A crash
7. A ride

PARENTS

Finally, the night of the concert, do NOT let Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Doris and her toddler plunk themselves down in the front row. This is not a concert for parents. Parents are more than welcome to browse the bookstore inside and occasionally peek outside to see how things are going. The parking lot is 18 and under. A fun way to enforce this is to have a “bouncer-type” card at the door.

FOLLOW-UP

Make sure you collect email addresses from the kids who attend. Make a separate database for those kids. They’ll be the ones you invite to the next band night. Thank the bands and maybe offer to sell their CDs on consignment in the store for a few weeks. Restock your decimated YA and Graphic Novels sections. Send a recap email with highlights and pics from the night and link to the bands’ websites.

Look at the calendar and set down the date for your next Teen Band Night and let the promotion begin!