I usually put videos at the end of a blog post, but in this case, it makes the most sense to see the video, and then read the review. So in case you didn’t, go ahead and hit play.
On Friday evening, as most of you were fighting rush hour traffic to get home from the work week, I was sitting inside of what used to be a Fountain Square tobacco store. It’s a space that, in the present day, sometimes functions as a church and other times as The Hoosier Dome. As the latter, it’s a music venue and community space that’s operated by Piradical (pronounced pie-radical) Productions- a local booking and promotions company commonly associated with the all-ages punk, indie, and hardcore scenes.
I was attending the Indianapolis stop on the EIY Spring (Into Action) tour. As you learned in the video above, the tour is a collaboration between The Vans Warped Tour and EIY (Earn IT Yourself). Through organized scene meet-ups, Sarah Saturday (EIY founder) is connecting and informing passionate members of all ages music communities in various cities across the country. She starts each meeting with a brief history and explanation of EIY, reinforcing the belief that “one must earn one’s successes in life the right way, without compromising his/her integrity, ignoring his/her instincts, or going against his/her values”.
After some context, Sarah asked every person in attendance to introduce themselves, state what city they’re from, and to talk about how they first got involved with the local music scene- a task that took nearly an hour for the 30+ attendees to each take their turn. There was Joshua “Lego” Lohrman, the CEO & owner of booking/management company White Horse Enterprises; Kyle Knight, vocalist and lead guitarist for pop-punk band Don’t Call It A Comeback who cited the band Saves The Day as his inspiration to contribute to the local scene; Chris Koons, owner of Muncie-based company Shameless Promotions and jack-of-all-music-business-trades including booking, representation, concert hosting, band management, and tour managing/booking; and April Nicole, a tattoo artist for Artistic Skin Designs and owner of The Candy Jar, a custom artwork company. And that’s just four of the nearly 40 people who showed up. Each attendee was diverse in their own way (although the group was heavily weighted on the musician side), yet all were striving to support and fuel their local scene in one way or another.
After the lengthy introduction segment, discussion returned to the concept of DIY or "Do It Yourself". As Sarah states on her website, the Do It Yourself movement that began 30 years ago in the punk scene encourages bands to book their own shows, release their own albums with their own money, distribute their CDs online and through touring, handle all management of the band, and even to screen print their band t-shirts by hand- all things the young musicians at The Hoosier Dome were more than familiar with. EIY or "Earn It Yourself" builds on this concept by adding that one must earn every dollar in his pocket by means of his mind and his will — not by means of others’ pity for him, by begging for alms, or by being dishonest.
The conversation needed little guidance from Sarah as the round table discussion of struggles in self-management yielded horror stories of bands “buying-in” a.k.a. spending large amounts of money to get billed with popular, well-known bands. “You don’t get big because you opened for a big band,” one person defiantly stated. “That’s right,” agreed Sarah. She added, “You get big by giving fliers to everyone you see, by getting people to your shows, and by being a good band that makes good music.” Other attendees told stories of locals being scammed by show organizers who require them to sell a certain amount of pre-sale tickets in order to earn their spot on the bill, potentially facing penalization if they don’t meet a quota. “It’s basically enslaving local bands,” Sarah said of the unjust practice.
Sarah reminded the youngsters it’s also important understand the value of their bands. “Don’t ask for $500 to play a show,” one person answered. They discussed resources available to young musicians to help them make connections with the people and organizations they need to develop their band. They talked about ways to book shows and not lose money on the events (the verdict: don’t promise guarantees on attendance numbers, but instead make door deals and distribute whatever money is earned across all the bands) and encouraged the experienced talent buyers to mentor rookies that want to learn to book and promote.
As the meeting came to a close, Sarah encouraged everyone to sign up for the Vans Warped Tour Street Team. She handed out free pamphlets detailing the lost art of postering that explains the correct and professional way to advertise one’s own show. She also had a slew of resources for sale: The EIY Handbook, In EveryTown: An All-Ages Music Manualfesto from the All-Ages Movement Project, and Martin Atkins’ bold book of advice called Welcome To The Music Business… You’re Fucked.
In the end, the two-hour meeting was ultimately about supporting the local, all-ages scene and helping it to grow and thrive. As the next generation of music-lovers that will continue to discover talent, create music, and organize concerts, these vibrant and passionate young people deserve the time and attention of our community. If you’d like to volunteer your time, money, or knowledge, contact Stephen Zumbrun (Piradical Productions owner) and ask how you can get involved.
Danielle covers local music for NUVO.net and IndyMojo.com.