The Business of Banding

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by djdeuph, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. djdeuph

    djdeuph New Member

    Hi all,

    I wanted to draw upon the wealth of experience from our friends on the other side ofthe world. Our band is in the process of taking that next step and really growing into a sustainable organization. We are looking for ideas on how to promote the band (increase paid gigs), other fundraising ideas, and other general ideas to set up the best possible structure for us to flourish in the future.
    Thanks in advance fro your help!

    Derek Danilson
    Atlantic Brass Band
  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Derek -

    I think you'll find your band is in better shape than you think. As for looking for advice, you may want to draw from the experiences of the other NABBA bands. Based on my experience here (so far) most bands (except for those very top 15 - or so bands in the country) don't have as much guarenteed money per performances as the likes of Illinois, Chicago, BBC, COBB, EIBB, BBCF, BBWR, Priarie (just guessing on some of these) and probably many other North American Bands. Many of the gigs here (in the UK) are all about the band promoting themselves and selling tickets to a concert which is always a big expense of effort and man hours (it is also a calculated risk).

    That being said, Staffordshire Brass Band (I hope they don't mind the reference) has a very nice website detailing why you should sponsor the band.

    (BTW Michelle gets here tomorrow so I'll make her dig for info to help out your band while she's here)
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2004
  3. Lothianh

    Lothianh Member

    Actually, I'm responding from the same side of the world as you, so I may not be the person you want to hear from...

    I'm mostly curious about you mean by "really growing into a sustainable organization". By that do you mean becoming a group that goes along from year to year, basically covering its expenses for music, space rental, conductor, etc and maybe setting aside some bucks for larger projects? Or do you mean becoming a group which can cover all of the above AND buy a matched set of instruments AND pay all the expenses for its members to travel to contests (airfare, hotel, meal stipend) or other events?

    Just curious - I know some bands really struggle with the first, although in PBB we've been lucky recently that we really haven't. But we do still charge our members a nominal amount for dues, and while we can offer a stipend to cover airfare or hotel expenses at events like NABBA, we are not yet at a point where we can cover the entire amount.

  4. djdeuph

    djdeuph New Member

    More specific info

    Hi there,

    Heck I'll take input from anywhere. One thing in your post Lothian that I noticed was the concept that your band doesnt cover NABBA expenses. Maybe that is what we need to change first. Right now we spend almost all of our money on NABBA travel expense each year. Do bands (US or UK or otherwise) usually cover travel fees for members?

    Don't get me wrong, ABB is doing fine in comaprison to other bands but since we are on the East Coast, our costs are significantly higher than the Midwest bands to get to competition, especially if we permanently move it to Chicago.

    As far as moving to the next level, I am hoping to help the band get better revenue generating concerts and think about some sort of an annual fundraising campaign and/or foundation / corporate support through grants or sponsorship. The other thought we have is adding a youth band. One hurdle with the youth band idea will be obtaining instruments (at least the BB specialty ones) so we'll see what happens there.

    Again, just checking to see if there are some good ideas out there that we can borrow from!


    Derek Danilson
    Atlantic Brass Band
  5. Lothianh

    Lothianh Member

    I believe that most U.S. bands do little to cover travel expenses for contests; many may not provide any stipend at all. Kudos to ABB for doing that, although you are obviously finding it a drain on the treasury. In PBB our stipend is maybe adequate to cover the hotel room, but not transportation. Or, in 2001 we bought the plane tickets for the band to fly to DC but everyone was on their own for the hotel.

    I gather that in the UK (and others will know more about this than I do), only the very top bands have the funds to cover expenses for travel to major contests like the Nationals, the Europeans, etc without doing special fundraising. On the other hand, many contests are not so far away that an overnight stay is necessary - it's possible to take a bus and make a day trip out of it, which cuts down on expenses.

    If the rumors I've heard coming out of NABBA are true, don't count on Chicago being the permanent site of the championships just yet.

    Personally, I think they'd be better off finding three sites, all in areas that are easy to get to from anywhere in North America, and rotate amongst them. Chicago is an obvious choice, as would someplace on the eastern seaboard - DC/Baltimore/Northern VA maybe, or even somewhere closer to the Ohio group of bands like Pittsburgh. Then maybe somewhere out west, to get some bands there involved. Maybe LA, Vegas, or the Bay Area. But I'm not on the NABBA board, and frankly I'm barely keeping up with the one contest I am involved with!!

    All good ideas, although I think the youth band might be more of a revenue drain than a revenue enhancer. Of course, it has other benefits in terms of giving back to the community, getting more people involved, and growing "native" talent.

    Foundation and corporate support would be great, although it can be tricky to find. In the current economic environment there don't seem to be too many companies looking around to shower thousands of dollars on a band. As with all such deals, even when they are looking to give to arts in the community, you have to be able to show how it benefits them - at how many concerts will their name be visible, do you get significant numbers of people to your concerts, how does your group stack up against other choices for PR value. If they will get more visiblity by giving their bucks to a modern dance troupe (or a hospital) instead, then they will.

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2004
  6. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    BBC has typically covered all travel expenses related to the band (Including the trip to Birmingham for the Open in 2000) - whether is be the coach, hotel rooms or flight (this would not include if members want to arrive early or stay later). There are three things that have made this possible 1) A steady schedule of 20 concerts a year and sales from 5 CDs (I think) over the past 10 or so years, bringing in money to cover these expenses, 2) For the 20 years the band has been in existence the MD has not been paid, 3) They have not gone to contest every single year. For instance, one of the reasons the band did not go to Little Rock is because the purchased new uniforms.

    As for mmy current Band WGC it is expected that all members either drive themselves to a venue or when a coach is necessary there is a 5 or 10 quid fee to cover the trip. Hotel rooms are also covered by members.

    Corporate Sponsorship can be a tough sell for an adult band. Do you have a newsletter and a mailing list with your supporters names and addresses? If you are looking for a one time fund raiser (Like we needed to go to Birmingham - and you may want for instruments) send out a mailing with various levels of donations (like you might see in an orchestra program). You can then recgonize those that donated, but I don't know that you can go to the well to often.

    If you want info on fund raising for youth bands talk to the sources. While I'm not sure what the Triangle Youth band has done, I believe the Cincinnati Brass Band was able to get donations or grants or something to help start their youth band and some of the money even gets kicked back to the Adult band. It seems companies are much more likely to throw money at helping kids than adults. Eric Aho has three match sets of instruments for the All-Star bands (which I believe they finally own after about 12 years of leasing). They even have their own rehearsal hall that they are currently leasing (bingo on a few of the other nights is helping to pay the bills). You may also want to pm HBB or What Sharp is I believe they have managed to get funds to keep their youth band going and get instruments for them.
  7. jambo

    jambo Member

    One sure fire way of increasing your revenue comes from booking your own gigs.

    Normally a band waits to be booked before they have a concert and are thus subject to a fee. However, if you book a concert venue say your local town hall...get the venue sponsored by local businesses so they're branded all over the programme and posters, then, book another well supported group (choirs are normally good for this) to share the concert with you.

    The plus side is that you as the band take all the ticket money (as the hall is paid for) and then pay the choir or who ever, a previously agreed amount...easy.

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