What’s in a name?

Name’s are very important things. I have spoken before about the amount of head scratching that went on whilst naming Storm Dynamics (it was rather a lot.) but what if you have a product up and running already that you want to re-brand?

Re-branding sounds like quite a big deal. Probably because it is. You are changing the public identity of something you have worked hard to promote thus far. It’s not something to be undertaken lightly. So what happens when you want to subtly suggest to a fire d that they should re-brand their company? You take them to Nando’s, of course.

It sounds a bit clandestine when put like that:
“Hey Scott, how do you fancy a meal at Nando’s? I know it’s your favourite. Oh and whilst we’re there I’m going to let my other half try and convince you to change the name of the disco we run… And the logo… And the website… And do more business cards and new flyers.”

I have to admit it wasn’t something that occurred to be before. I thought LightBeat was a good name for the disco as we did amazing lights and all the beats. It does what it says on the tin. But when neither Scott or I had considered was that it didn’t. In the advertising world the word light has been overtaken by ‘lite.’ When read aloud all people hear is a kind of diet version of a disco or worse a disco that specialises in Nora Jones type music. Who wants to book an elevator music disco for their wedding reception? No one does, which is why all our business has previously been referral.

Once explained to Scott he agreed and then the thinking caps came out. It had to be something Scott liked, he didn’t want it to be about himself, he didn’t want more than two words and if possible not even the word disco for fear of people hearing YMCA instead of David Guetta.

He came up with ‘Experience’ one word for a whole lot of things. Officially Experience Disco and Light Show with the tag Unique Disco, Ultimate Entertainment.

We set up a website Experiencedls.co.uk and a Facebook page and so far so good. We’re even booked for a Wedding Fair at the Princes Hall in Aldershot on Sunday 27th Jan.

I’d be interested to know people’s opinions on the name and the rebranding scheme. All comments welcome.

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Kick it

I haven’t got an order to my bucket list. There are thing that I want to do and have wanted to for years but I’ve never wanted to put them in order. If I did then I would start to feel that I had to do them in that order and that leads to stress which I can’t really be bothered with.

One thing that’s been on the list for over a year is to do a gig with power metal band Draegon. I joined the band just over a year ago and since that time we’ve been working on the up coming concept album. I joined by applying to an ad they’d placed looking for a keyboard player and I got the job with the most unusual email I’d ever written. The gist of it told them who I was and listed my experience – as a saxophonist. I quite honestly said that I’d never played their style of music but enjoyed listening to it and that I’d not played piano outside of a university recital. This is clearly not the way to apply for a position, but it worked and I was instantly teleported from a Steinway Grand to a triple stack of Yamaha and Korg’s.

I loved it. A part of me will always enjoy Mozart and Debussy but to apply those techniques to the wall of sound produced by the Yamaha alone is simply amazing. It also brought a dimension to their music that was unexpected.

Now the entire band is itching to get back out and play live. So with luck I’ll be getting this ticked off my bucket list by the end of the year.

Resolved

The one word my other half uses most often to describe me is ambitious. I have big ideas and I always have a plan to set them in motion.

Storm Dynamics was one such idea, though this one was years in the making. I love music and have a knack for writing it. It turns out that I also have a knack for teaching people music so my family thought that my career was all set out. I would be a school music teacher. What’s not to like, I get to do what I love and get job security and good further career options. There was only one problem; I hate being around people who don’t want to learn. School music lessons we sheer torture for me as, not only did I already know the standard Key Stage bits and pieces but the vast majority of my class mates saw music as a ‘doss’ lesson and had no intention of learning. Whilst I was at Collingwood College this wasn’t too much of a problem as our teachers there had devised a system of keeping us instrumental learners challenged. Grammar School, however, was completely different. Despite having a class of only 8 students our teacher did his utmost to make classes routine and dull – that was if he turned up, his duties as Head of Lower School kept him very busy. He’d say the same thing to me every day: “Oh, Jo, you play piano and what else again?” I was first study saxophone, grade 8. I was also the only saxophonist in the entire school and the only grade 8, maybe I’m being egocentric but I’d have thought that would make me memorable. Two years under the tutelage of this man and I knew that if there was the slightest possibility of turning into anything remotely like him then I had to stay away.

So I resolved.

I was going to teach instruments, not classroom music. That way I could work with individuals who actually want to learn their instruments and I would get to work at creating music (particularly appealing at the time as I hadn’t developed my love of music theory yet.) So I began giving private instrumental lessons and that’s what brings me to last year’s resolution, which I kept.

I had two resolutions last year. The first was to try online dating and the second was to grow my client base. The first was easy to keep, I signed up to eHarmony and much to my surprise met Russell as my first match and we’ve now been together for nearly a year. The second was harder as I first had to learn some business acumen. Luckily for me that is something Russell has in abundance and he started pointing me in the right direction.

The first thing is to brand yourself and the easiest way to search out competition is to plug all your ideas into google and see if anyone else has thought of them first. Have you ever tried to come up with an original title using a musical term? If not try it now because I swear everything we thought of has already been captured by someone else. After three days (yes really) of both of us trying we found that there were very few companies using the word dynamics. So we put that into Facebook and twitter and anything else we could think of and it stayed, reasonably, free.

We now had a name: Storm Dynamics. Storm because it’s eye catching and Dynamics because it’s musical. Next came the logo, which was outsourced and after that the assault on social media and local advertising.

Six months later Storm Dynamics had tripled in size and I am now officially the Managing Director of my own company. Not bad for one resolution.

Quick Lessons – Don’t Be Good, Be Lucky

It’s the most obvious part of being a gigging musician, especially if you’re a soloist.

ALWAYS SIGN A CONTRACT!

Whilst I was in Africa I set up my own solo act. I’ve been doing it for three years and I have always drawn up my own contract. If the client doesn’t sign it, then there’s no sax at their wedding. So how did I manage to forget that this time?

Now it looks like the gig will be cancelled, meaning hours of practice and music hunting have gone to waste. I cannot emphasise just how much I was kicking myself. Until I got a little email from my client.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience.  We will, of course, forward you a cancellation fee of 50%”

It helps to be good at what you do. It also helps to be a jammy little bugger.

 

So, take my advice, and remember that contract!

MusicConnex

This is a quick post with a very important link

http://uk.music-jobs.com/blog/

If, for whatever reason, the link doesn’t take you to the UK Music Jobs blog about the MusicConnex event this link will.

http://www.musicconnex.co.uk/

The events is designed to help self employed musicians connect with other musicians and use social networking to its best advantage.

Tuesday 19th – Thursday 21st April

Kings Place

London

BUT

Tickets start at £199.00 each

(No you didn’t read that wrong.)

Prelude to ‘An Evening with Snake Davis.’

I can stress enough how happy I am to be back in England.  Barely five minutes in the country and one of my favourite sax players is hosting a ridiculously cheap master-class.  It’s on Wednesday 30th March at The Spice of Life, Cambridge Circus, London.

 

Here are some of the subjects he will be covering:

  • How to form an individual sound.

 

  • How to achieve more expression, better sound, more control, more dynamics, better intonation.

 

  • An in-depth look at vibrato.

 

  • Adopting a less jazz and more pop/rock approach to the short solo.

 

But best of all is the open Q&A, so you’ll literally have the chance to ask him anything you want!

 

What more could you ask for for £5?

Here’s the link

http://www.sax.co.uk/snakemasterclass.html

What to do with my Baritone Sax – Part 2

The saga of the baritone sax gets worse.  Yesterday was my last day teaching Michael and I can honestly say that there are very few kids who are as much fun to teach as this boy.  So, naturally, I wanted to do something special for his last lesson.

I decided to bring my soprano, alto, tenor and bari to his lesson so he could have a go on each of them and generally have fun.  Unfortunately, when I opened the bari sax case the bloody zip broke in my hand! So now it has a broken handle and won’t close at all.  At least the wheels still work.

So what now? It still has to fly to England in that useless thing.  I don’t have time, or funds to get it repaired or to buy it a new one.  And lets face it I’m in South Africa, the music shops here don’t tend to stock baritone saxophone flight cases anyway. (If they did there would probably be a 100% mark up on it like there are on the high end alto saxes in some places.)

All I can think now is to bind the thing with luggage straps, take out all the extras (mouthpiece etc) put it in boxes and put in as much packing as possible. Then pray.

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