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INSIDE MUSIC: Musician life before Facebook - Part 1

By Rosemary Conte

originally published: 03/22/2018

INSIDE MUSIC: Musician life before Facebook - Part 1Credit is due Facebook for changing the way we communicate with our peers, our fans, prospective audiences and prospective employers, making musicians’ lives easier. 

I was thinking about the way we once promoted gigs and built a fan base; how time consuming and expensive it was before we had cell phones, email, and FB. The newest generation of working players and singers can’t know how lucky they are unless a veteran of the trenches clues them in. (Have you noticed that older musicians use the language of warriors? Even as recently as 15 or so years ago, making a living as a musician with no more than local fame was a struggle. And non-musicians were called “civilians.”)

It’s always been best to send out promo that’s attractive, and anyone with a computer can do so today. Back in the day, however, an entertainer would visit a print shop and tell a staffer what he wanted to say in the promo piece… and maybe bring a by-hand mock up. He would confer on the design and provide a photo which would cost at least an extra $10 to print. 

It would be safest to pay more for heavier paper, as all-purpose copy paper, though cheaper, would arrive in a physical mailbox wrinkled or torn and that’s not good for one’s image. If you ordered a colored piece it would cost far more than black and white. The printing bill might cost as much as the gig paid and sting especially hard if you were promoting a one-nighter and you hadn’t built a dependable following.

It would be more cost effective if you had a few dates to advertise in the piece… but not always easy to set that up.  And a big but here; if you don’t send out one-nighter ads it’s tantamount to standing still. The idea is to keep your name out there. And, if you don’t bring in an audience to your show, it too, looks bad, and you may not get another gig in that place because you didn’t draw a crowd. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! 

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I recall that back then, Jersey Shore’s troubadour, Pat Guadagno would send a small card of a monthly calendar with place and time of his gigs posted in the respective boxes. I was impressed. It was so practical. 

You hope you got your print job back with time enough for the piece to be delivered to friends and fans. You use a post-card size announcement rather than stuff an envelope to save money. Still, mailing to everyone you knew, the postage too, might cost as much as the gig paid.  

If you were courageous, you might have bought into bulk mailing from your local post office. The process to mail bulk can be cumbersome when mailing hundreds of pieces. It’s time consuming and there’s no guarantee as to when your mail will arrive, so you have to mail earlier than if you used first class postage. You save money, but it’s not all that economical unless you’re mailing thousands of pieces.

When I mailed my All Music Magazine to a couple thousand musicians and fans in the 1980s and 90s the bulk mailing process took over my kitchen, as boxes of the magazine, each box going to a specific zip code, lined the room making it not a functional kitchen until I hauled all the boxes to the post office.  Bulk mailing was so challenging and time consuming, that it took two people working on it. Oh, and until I acquired a dot matrix printer and learned about mailing labels, the pieces were hand addressed!

In comparison, it’s almost heavenly today - to design a promo piece in a matter of minutes on your computer and with the click of a key send it to your email list and post it to FB for the whole world to see - for FREE.

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Hope 10 - The Final Hope Concert To Take Place On December 23
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Musician, bandleader and community icon Bobby Bandiera and the Count Basie Center for the Arts have announced details for HOPE 10 – THE FINAL HOPE CONCERT. The annual charity concert, which has raised millions for area community organizations, will take place at the Basie Center on Sunday, December 23. Tickets range from $50 to $500.
Mayo Presents Puddles Pity Party
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Puddles Pity Party -- The "Sad Clown with the Golden Voice" -- comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center with his heartfelt anthems and a suitcase full of Kleenex!  Puddles Pity Party performs on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $35-$55.
State Theatre Present A Tribute to ABBA
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents ABBA The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA on Thursday, November 8 at 8:00pm. ABBA The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA, brings one of the greatest pop successes in the history of music back to life. Tickets range from $29-$69. 
Murray Grove Retreat & Renewal Center Hosts Mischief Masquerade
(LANOKA HARBOR, NJ) -- Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center  will be hosting a Halloween-themed event, Mischief Masquerade, as part of their Speakeasy Series on Tuesday, October 30th. This October event follows their previous “Prohibition Party,” which was a great success. The Mischief Masquerade will run from 7:00pm-10:00pm and will feature a Halloween DJ, a costume contest, vendors, mixed drinks from Asbury Park Distilling, a $5 bar menu, tarot card readings, henna and more! The event is sponsored by Breaker Zine, an arts and culture magazine, and Asbury Park Distilling.
SOPAC Presents Roots Music Legends: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have been filling canvasses with music of the American West for decades, coming from two very different directions. Now, they will play together at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on November 1 at 7:30pm for the very first time. Though far from home, Alvin and Gilmore’s first duo album, Downey to Lubbock, contains all the elements that have sustained their musical journey through the years.

Cliffside Park, NJ Celebrates "Cousin Bruce Morrow Day!"
A crowd of local residents and dignitaries gathers outside Public School #6 in Cliffside, NJ on this beautiful fall evening. They are all awaiting the arrival of the “man of the hour” — celebrated radio DJ Bruce Morrow — since Mayor Thomas Calabrese has proclaimed today, October 5, 2018, “Cousin Bruce Morrow Day!”
Cynthia Sayer and Her Joyride Quartet LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
The audience is already in place this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts for a special “Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon” performance by Cynthia Sayer and Her Joyride Quartet entitled The Hot Banjo Show!
Whitney Houston Exhibit Opens at The GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center
Interviews with Pat Houston, President of The Estate of Whitney E. Houston and Bob Santelli, Founding Executive Director of the Grammy Museum
"Very Happy!" The Buckinghams and Cowsills Star in Cousin Brucie's Rock and Roll Yearbook Vol. 2 LIVE!
Fall is in the air at Homdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center this Friday, September 28, 2018 evening as thousands of ’60s music lovers ready themselves forCousin Brucie’s Rock and Roll Yearbook Vol. 2! The show — produced by Cousin Brucie, along with Rob Albanese and the Garden State Arts Center Foundation — features four fab acts from the 1960s: The Buckinghams, The Cowsills, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, and The Orlons!
“Brilliant!” The Young Dubliners LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a mild Saturday, September 29, 2019 evening as fans of Celtic rock are streaming into Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts for a concert by The Young Dubliners.

Event calendar
Sunday, Oct 21, 2018


DiTrani Bros: Folk, Swing, Jazz, Ragtime!! @ Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse, Dunellen - 7:00pm

Jazz Guitarist Abe Ovadia @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Gypsy Jazz Brunch with Pyrenesia and Max Hansen Buffet @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

Dryden Ensemble: Bach Cantata Fest @ Miller Chapel (Princeton), Princeton - 3:00pm

Suzzanne Douglas @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm


The Ghost Princess @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

CDC Theatre presents A Few Good Men @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 2:00pm

Wait Until Dark @ Somerset Valley Playhouse, Hillsborough - 8:00pm

World Premier of, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, A Horror of a Play @ Forum Theatre (Metuchen), Metuchen - 3:00pm

The Color Purple @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

Almost, Maine @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Black Tom Island @ The 1882 Carriage House, Liberty Hall Museum, Union - 3:00pm

*Uncle Vanya, Scenes from a Jersey Life in Four Acts @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 7:00pm

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie @ Westfield Community Players, Westfield - 2:00pm


DRACULA - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 4:00pm


A conversation with John Cusack Following a screening of Say Anything @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:00pm


Summit Farmers Market Pumpkin Painting @ Summit Farmers Market, Summit - 10:00am


The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 9:00am


HAUNTED ILLUSIONS LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 3:00pm

THE MAGIC OF BILL BLAGG LIVE! @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm

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