Building a Festival, One Beer at a Time!
“…and we’ll do it ourrrr way, yes ourrrr way. Make all our dreams come true…”
Upon walking into Asheville, NC’s Highland Brewery, the Laverne and Shirley theme song really couldn’t help but pop into my head. We were given an amazing opportunity and I was very excited about it. We were about to get paid to work with beer…this was awesome!
This is Highland. This is where we pack the beers
Hailing from the blue collar world of western Pennsylvania, my bandmates and I understood a hard day’s work from the vantage of a steel worker or a coal miner. We quickly mastered our extremely technical jobs of putting beers into boxes and found enough time to work as many as three jobs at once. Highland noticed our enthusiasm and we were invited back.
After working a couple of times at Highland I realized the trend. Look to your left, it’s a musician; look to your right, the same. Highland Brewery supports musicians! They understand that making music isn’t always the most lucrative of careers so they scour the local music scene and ask their favorite bands if they’d be interested in occasionally making a few extra bucks…wow!
Well, one day after looking to my right and left sides, I realized that I had been working with some of the region’s top musical acts. There really were some incredible bands working at The Highland Brewery and nobody even knew it. I spent the rest of the day thinking of a way to remedy that problem.
The idea sat, undeveloped for quite a while when finally I sprang it on my band’s manager, Gene Dolan. That’s all he needed to hear. His gears were now churning and this idea was rapidly turning into a physical thing. For the next couple of days we had a one-track mind. The Highland Mountain Medley Music Compilation was all anyone around us would hear about. Our ideas became refined and eventually a functional blueprint started to evolve.
Being in a band, my number one concern was that the artists get paid. Being a music fan, Gene wanted to make sure that it would all culminate into a giant, amazing event. Here’s the 11 step general plan that we developed:
Step 1: Get 8 or 9 bands (associated with Highland), who are willing to donate a track towards a compilation CD.
Step 2: Find a local charity or organization in need of help
Step 3: Make a website
Step 4: Develop a sales pitch / business proposal
Step 5: Find local media to trade ad space for publicity.
Step 6: Line up distribution with local record and book stores.
Step 7: Get Highland to provide money for the printing and cd duplication
Step 8: Trade ad space to get the compilation mastered
Step 9: Sell remaining CD ad space to local businesses.
Step 10: Sell album online and at local merchants.
Step 11: Use the proceeds from (at least) 500 album sales and the ad revenue to go towards a small but incredible, one-day festival. The venue, the musicians, the charity, and us, (the organizers) will all get paid.
The music industry has changed, and there’s only so many times that I’m willing to ask our fans if they’ll give their email addresses so that we can win another contest. If we’re going to continue to pay our rent while doing what we love, it’s become obvious that we need to create new and innovative ways to gain fans while making money.
Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be writing about our progresses and pitfalls as we turn boxing beers into a compilation CD, and from there into a small, successful festival…all-the-while we’ll be doing it our way, yes our way…make all our dreams come true, for me and you.
by: Jason Mencer
The LAMA Agency.