I’m sure we have all heard of Bandhappy by now. Bandhappy is an educational tool that allows instructors and students to interact with one another in an accessible easy to use Skype-esque format. It is a great way to gain access to the plethora of talented people out there and learn from them either by a webcam/chatroom format or a live setting when a touring musician comes through your town. I was immediately intrigued to the concept of musicians interacting directly with aspiring fans, so I signed up on day one! I have since had the opportunity to have a single lesson using Bandhappy and just wanted to talk about how delightful the experience was.

Now my instrument of choice is guitar and then I like to pretend I can sing in the shower sometimes. By no merit am I a qualified guitarist but I can lay down some Nirvana and blink-182 like the best of them. My experience with Bandhappy though, wasn’t a musical one. Instead, I got to talk to someone with plenty of experience and qualifications in the profession I aspire to employ myself — a concert promoter. This might not seem like a big deal but when I put things into perspective it’s quite revolutionary.

I have plans to go to business school after I graduate and learn about the formalities involved in managing your numbers, taxes, staff, as well as some techniques to keep my business afloat. I’m doing this because I know it will help me become a promoter and it will give me something I can fall back on if things go awry. That’s the problem though; the most specific thing I can find about my desired profession is something you can apply to all businesses and explore all the techniques and nuances about promoting. I would much rather sit and learn about the actual career I want to pursue. This is where Bandhappy shines. No longer will anyone have to sit in the dark and be limited by your resources. Now you have somewhere to go and somewhere to learn from people who have seen how it’s done. Maybe I am jaded but my persistence and eagerness to learn finally has an outlet and I can’t put a price on that. Imagine if you wanted to become a soldier but there was no military. That is what becoming a promoter feels like without any direction. It’s a terrifying prospect and Bandhappy really helped affirm my direction in life.

The lesson was pretty straight forward. I essentially came to my instructor Lulu Davis (Assisting with the Press for Soinsphere 2010, Marketing Intern For Century Media etc.) with questions about promoting. I’ll recap a part of the conversation we had so you can get a feel for what I was searching for. Take in to account that I have never put on my own show.

A big part of me wanting to become a promoter is the possibility of attending my own shows. Now I know that the bigger the show, the less realistic it is to assume I can sit back and watch it but I was wondering if Promoters are usually occupied during the performances. What is your experience with this?

Well Cody, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to watch the band perform as long as your show is going as planned. I mean if your doorman has to go to the washroom or the bands are showing up late, expect to be held up but with good organization practices, then it can be very rewarding.

So I have some questions about marketing the show. There is this really cool company called DropCards that provide affordable downloads in a physical format. It is basically a card with a download code on it. I want to use these as promotional items for the shows I put on. I think listening to the music is a big part of getting people interested and I was just curious as to how I would go about getting permission to give the songs away. Who would I go to get the rights to distribute a song?

That’s a super cool idea! I totally agree that people have to know about the bands before the show! What a great way to get people interested. From my experience though, you have to be very communicative with people to get permission to use the songs. If the band is signed, it is a good idea to ask the publisher as well as the band themselves if you can use it. Also try and figure out if DropCards is part of a collection society and offer royalties on copyrighted material. If you give me your email, I can point you in the right direction. You are absolutely right and from what I can tell you have a great foundation for covering your bases….”

It was a great experience and extremely informative. Both Bandhappy and Lulu did a bang up job in making sure my questions we’re answered. If you are interested in Promoting or Music Business in general, I recommend Lulu. I also want to mention that Bandhappy provided some of the best customer service I had ever received. Now bear with me because I don’t want to have this come off as “user review”. I have to say though, there has never been another company where I came to a first name basis with the customer service representative. All I did was make a quip about them lacking someone on the site for music business and promoting and the following morning I received an message in my inbox that read

Hello Cody,

Thank you for your interest in Bandhappy and please forgive the delay in reply.

We do have several people on the site that offer music business/artist management services.  Some of them offer it exclusively (that’s all they do), while others are experienced musicians that have experience from managing their own bands.

I will help you connect with someone — just tell me a little bit more detail about what you’re looking for.  Are you looking for help with promotions, with record labels, with scheduling and venues?

Given my isolation, I was ecstatic. Now I’m not a professional after the lesson or anything and I did have a solid foundation in knowledge about what promoting entails but what Bandhappy has provided is confidence. It gave me a valuable point of reference that I didn’t ever foresee myself learning.

I also want to talk about  doing lessons over a webcam. The Baltimore Post brought up the issue of practicality and it is worth discussing. In my case, Bandhappy was a spectacular way to take notes and discuss things, but what happens when it becomes something about synchronization? The system has to be done well. In an attempt to alleviate any lag to ensure that lessons go smoothly, they have a mandatory speed test and an extensive tech support staff as well as making troubleshooting and help menus constantly available and apparent. Though at the end of the day, this doesn’t prevent a bad connection. With that being said though, Bandhappy really keeps the customer in mind to the extent of their capabilities.

Henceforth, I urge you skeptics and non-believers to think of the possibilities that Bandhappy provides us and to give it a shot! Pick up that mic in your closet and schedule a lesson with Rody Walker of Protest the Hero or get in touch with the president of Outerloop Management to learn about the ins and outs of the music business. Even if your Axe-FX tone isn’t quite perfect, they have people for that too. It isn’t just there for traditional lessons. Bandhappy is about exploration. Figure out if you want to play drums or piano and then ask someone on there about it. Take the opportunity to read the resume of someone you admire and marvel in the fact that you can get a lesson from them. It’s endless what you can do with this thing.

If you have had any qualms with Bandhappy or would like to share a different perspective then mine, shoot off in the comments. I can’t think of many critiques for the system because it is so user oriented, but perhaps I have overlooked something. Let us know!

– CD

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