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4 Tips from Ralph Jaccodine
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1/24/2016 at 2:06:50 AM GMT
Posts: 16
4 Tips from Ralph Jaccodine

Last week, I interviewed Ralph Jaccodine for tips when attending Folk Alliance, asking, “What ways can an artist stand out in the crowd?”

Ralph is a manager of artists (most notably Ellis Paul), an adjunct professor at Berklee School of Music, and re-elected board member of Folk Alliance.

Here are some questions and answers: 

1. The first time I showcased at SERFA, I felt a bit overwhelmed and underprepared! How can first timers avoid that feeling of getting a bit lost in the size of the FAI’s larger conference?
​RJ: Promote your showcase as much as possible. Have your set down: the right balance of music, talking, interaction with the audience. Read the room and its energy, and plan a set according to this. Promote your showcases: ask friends to attend for support.
2. I was inspired by Ellis Paul’s analogy of constructing a music career, brick-by-brick, over a long haul of connecting with people. What type of bricks should us newer artists be seeking in the music industry at FAI?
​RJ: Think of co-writing, start a writing group, tour with like-minded artists. You need to play live as much as you can, and eventually you will need to be great live. Then, you will aggregate fans​ who will sign your email list. Communicating directly to these fans is key; fan to fan, club by club, market by market you grow a career.
3. My first blog referenced Lyal Strickland and how his business card was a snack at SERFA. Any examples of promotional materials that stood out over the years?
RJ: ​Food, candy, pens–there are all sorts of things given out, but great music trumps all. You should have a cool card, an easy way to get your music out to folks (might want to give a download card, simple CD sampler)​.
4. Showcases in the hotel rooms go by so quickly! How might a newer artist approach these performances to get the most out of the experience?
​Quantity counts. Have a great set prepared, bring lots of energy and focus to your set. Get to meet others, see how you can help others. Ask for advice, partner in some way with others at your level​, observe what is going on around you. The most important part of these conferences is meeting like-minded music fans/promoters/players.

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When I attended SERFA in 2013, I didn’t know anyone at the conference; but by the end of the conference, I met at least a fourth of the attendees, had solid time meeting 25-30 folks during the meals, and 10 to 15 of them have stayed in great touch over the years through email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Ralph emphasizes finding artists “at your level,” and this is great advice. It’s tempting to chase a chance at opening for a more established artist, and those opportunities are going to present themselves early in your career, especially in your local markets. (Like Ari’s Take says, “50 is the magic number.”)

But how do we get those first chances to play in new regions? The easiest way is to team with others at your level from other cities. Have a long term vision when attending FAI. Have a future tour plan–one you can execute in six months or a next year–in mind.  Plus, new friends you meet during the meals and in the halls of the conference might attend your showcases later that night. Do the same for them!

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Author Bio:
Mike Vial is a songwriter from Ann Arbor. He has performed close to 1000+ gigs, including shows at the Ark in Ann Arbor, The Flint Institute of Arts, Six String Concerts in Columbus, Rockwood Music Hall, and State Theater in South Bend. He has been an official showcase artist at SERFA and FARMette, and he is attending his first FAI conference this February. You can hear his newest single, "Burning Bright" and read the feature by American Songwriter Magazine here

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