Aside from the fact that I absolutely, utterly ABHOR marketing/promotion/PR work with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 suns so it takes an enormous outlay of energy and willpower to force myself to do it, and this one, there are other barriers to getting shit done in Panache Land.
Listen while you read to “Last Night”, another unpublished Latin-ish fusion Panache piece that we plan on putting on an EP of similar work in the fairly near future.
Early February 2013
The directive sounded so utterly dead-stupid-simple: Just send our friend (highly respected, well-known pro player who loves us and our music and thinks we’d be THE bomb-ass-iest emerging act to present at a major regional festival in San Diego in the spring) an email with a brief cover blurb, two mp3 clips representative of our Latin-fusion tracks and one video attached (Rule #n: don’t overwhelm the gatekeeper with too much stuff to have to wade through about why they should let you in) for him to pass to the person in charge of booking who he knows very well and works with all the time with his personal recommendation.
So utterly simple, so why the hell has it taken nearly two months for me to get around to this ostensible slam-dunk? We had this conversation back in mid-December when we played a gig together. Because it’s an incredibly time consuming, crazymaking, convoluted fucking NIGHTMARE!! Why? Well, for starters, because I have to toggle back and forth between three different computers (in two discrete locations) to put together anything beyond simple text-based stuff.
I do a fair bit of composing and sending (text stuff) during business hours at my computer at my day job (SHHHH!!! BAD, I know!), and since I have no media editing tools available on that machine, that means that all the media (audio/video clips, photos, etc.) has to be ready to go and loaded on a flash drive that I can surreptitiously stick in the work computer to load the media files of the stuff I’m sending if it’s not already stored at one of our online presences, such as the page I created for promoters and booking agents on our website, which I just learned in the example cited above is ENTIRELY too much stuff to initially send for a specific request. That’s what I should have ready to send them AFTER they have decided to book us (based on a narrowly focused communique) and want a bunch of material to pull from when making up their copy for promoting us on their site for the event. Live and learn….
One considerable bottleneck to getting booked in genre-specific festivals is lack of high quality recordings of most of our material! Only 33 of our ±80 pieces are recorded at broadcast quality. Getting the capability in place to get more stuff recorded is another time- and capital-intensive undertaking that we haven’t been able to manage yet, so back to the problem of my bifurcated media managing infrastructure….Macs and PCs typically don’t play nice together, and I have one of each on my desk in my home office with an assortment of editing programmes I need for various things divided between the two, but not every type of programme I need on each machine… well…I can complete a media mustering operation on the decrepit old PC, while I do most of my work on the newer Mac, and trying to remember where various data is stored can be a big, time-consuming hassle.
At any rate, let’s start with the fiasco mentioned above and break it down, i.e., get a couple audio clips and a video of our Latin-ish stuff into the hands of our friend with a direct line to the booking manager of a major regional festival:
Problem #1: apart from a rough, scratchy video taken from a live performance that I had already edited and uploaded to YouTube, plus a couple audio clips that are recorded at a passable level, we don’t have any decent footage or tracks of our material in that genre! But what about the two audio clips that are already extant? Where the hell are they?? I have to hunt around and find them. I know we shot some halfway passable footage of various pieces at our Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market gig, but accessing it will require having to slog through miles of film to find the pieces I want, then cut out those sequences, render them as MP4 files that I then have to transfer to the PC to scrape out and edit the audio…see below. It should also be noted that the audio taken from these informal live videos is always crap (poor quality sound, distracting background noise, etc.), so I try to avoid using it when audio samples are required for the obvious reasons.
Ok, so back to that fucking track that’s a decent take recorded at decent quality of our representative “Latin-ish” fusion repertoire…where the hell was it? On an external hard drive that’s hooked up to (and only compatible with) the Mac. If it were an MP3 file that was under 10MB in size, I could just fly it across via email, but this is a massive full-res file, so I have a choice of either trying to figure out this wire-y thing Chi found in the discount bin at some office supply store that enables ferrying big files between Macs & PCs, but I use it so infrequently that I can never remember how to set it up, so have to hunt around for the manual (I don’t dare leave it permanently in place since it would be an obstructive nuisance and the cats would eat it!); or hunt up a flash drive to slide the clip onto that I can then dump into the PC where I can pull it up with the editing programme (“Sound Forge”) that I at least somewhat know how to use (I still haven’t the vaguest idea how to operate “Garage Band” on the Mac, which I am certain could do this task handily, but I need several Chi-free hours to figure it out first when I don’t have dozens of other competing priorities to deal with during that same time frame!), which brings us to the next problem:
No playback capability on the PC. I have to toggle my computer speakers back and forth between the two machines, i.e., extricate the Mac Mini hard drive from underneath the pile of crap that always accumulates atop it so I can pull the wire out of the Mac after identifying which one it is, untangle it and then weave it around to the PC whose hard drive is on the floor under the desk snowed in by dust tumbleweeds that give me a horrible allergy attack (I fucking hate housekeeping drudge work almost as much as band PR!), including hunt up a flashlight so I can see where the damn headphone jack is to plug it in, so that’s another layer of pain-in-the-ass BS that cripples my ability to work effectively on that machine. Granted, I don’t necessarily need playback capability to change the format of a file type, but if I have to do any editing, well, there you go: another barrier to progress!
And what if I don’t already have a prepared video in hand of a representative piece for a genre-specific call? Then I have to brace myself for what will almost certainly end up being a whole night of maddening bullshit struggling with iMovie (stock video editing software that comes with a Mac computer since I haven’t yet mustered the funding to get the more sophisticated Final Cut Express, much less figured out how operate it!) after hunting for the particular piece through several hours of video footage from several different performances to get it edited and uploaded to Youtube so I can link it to an emailed response.
So on and on it goes, working for hours on stuff until my brain is about to explode and STILL having nothing useable, almost always with Chi periodically barging in on me to harass me about some irrelevant thing, and then when he inevitably asks what I am doing and I tell him (big mistake, but it’s “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” no matter what it is), he starts yapping at me to just send any old thing and be done with it. Seriously. Chi does not seem to understand that when you’re trying to get booked in an intensely competitive situation, you have to put your best foot forward and send what the booking manager is asking for, full stop. Needless to say, trying to explain this stuff to him is a suicide mission since he has absolutely no ability to comprehend it and is convinced that everything that does not happen perfectly and instantly is 100% due to me just being lazy and perverse. Well, I am, to be sure, but it’s also a crazymaking, endlessly time consuming motherfucker of a hassle that I’m burned out on beyond words!
If my readers are wondering “Why in the hell are you doing this?!”, I’m afraid I have no good answer for you beyond “Someone’s got to do it!”