It's not often that a panelist ends his presentation by throwing blueberry muffins out into the crowd - or that he advises musical artists in attendance to do the same at their shows. But that is exactly what Martin Atkins, author of "Tour:Smart" and CEO of Invisible Records, did at Tuesday's New Music Seminar during the panel titled "Your Live Show and Tour."
Perhaps Atkins' muffin stunt was a nod to the importance of energy in a live musical performance, which panelists claimed was crucial to captivate any audience. Regardless of his attentions, Atkins was the highlight of the panel, the last of the day at the seminar held on NYU's campus.
Atkins highlighted key points from "Tour:Smart" in a way that the musical artists in attendance could understand - through humor. He stressed the unique merchandise as a key to keeping fans intrigued and cash flow continuing. Fellow panelist David Cooper, founder of the Foxman Group, LLC and Direct to Fan, echoed this point, claiming that fans "deserve original merch." Cooper told the artists in attendance that because they have complete creative control over merchandising possibilities, monetary opportunities of up to 40% for larger acts remain intact despite the current economic landscape.
The panel, which also featured commentary from Paradigm Agency president Marty Diamond, 9:30 Club booking manager Lisa White and Don Will of hip-hop group Tanya Morgan, established the importance of touring as the most profitable sector of the music industry today. According to panel moderator Dave Lory, producer and director of the New Music Seminar, touring revenue has increased 6.5% in the last six months.
For musical acts looking to gain notoriety, Diamond suggested overbooking a smaller venue rather than underbooking a larger one, while Atkins stressed the cost effectiveness of touring exclusively on the East Coast. In the spirit of the seminar, which urged the utilization of digital tools, Will focused on the online experience musical artists can create in order to captivate audiences. "The word of mouth is digital," he said, adding that artists can easily find eager fans willing to manage their Web sites and increase their online promotion for little to no cost.
In the end, all panelists agreed that musical artists must take an active role in the promotion and execution of their live performances, as labels have grown fonder of a more laissez faire approach in recent years.