Breaking and Entering Europe - One Indies rebel’s tale

By Little Steven

By Little Steven? THE Little Steven?? Yes, the one and only Steven Van Zandt writes about his recent adventures as a new Indie label - Wicked Cool Records - and specifically about their ongoing European distribution experience and he also offers a little advice.

Touring Europe
Travelling Europe from one venue to another is different for each band. Rock 'n' Roll High School surveyed 50 bands to hear their pros and cons of each country in the European Union. All these bands unselfishly gave their advice, so that you can prepare your tour in the best way possible.    

Booking agencies
There are a lot of professional booking agencies in Europe, but trying to persuade them to take on your band is difficult. Most agencies represent more artists then they realistically can handle and they will only work for you if they’re totally convinced that you’re going to be the “Next Big Thing”. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School talked to two European booking agencies to find out what it takes to join their roster. 

Do It Yourself - Touring
If you’re in a band, you probably can’t wait to hit the road. You’ll finally get the chance to conquer the world with your music, meet your MySpace friends, party every night and most importantly; make new fans. The easiest way, is to find a booking agency to set up a complete European tour for you. Don’t you just wish life was that simple? But don’t you worry! That’s why we’re here, to give you the “How tos” of touring Europe. Just take our hand and we’ll lead the way! 

Tour Managers
What does it take to be a tour manager? How do you run a business on the road? Novice Émilie Penin and professional Ram Lauwrier talk about their experiences in the field and right a few wrongs in the process.  

Anyone can start a label and put out records. The hard part is getting your CDs in the shops. It’s physically impossible to call every record shop in the world yourself to ask if they are willing to sell your CDs. That’s a specialist’s job. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked three of those European specialists the tricks of the trade.  

Do It Yourself - Label
Contrary to the grim reality of the market collapsing, people are still buying CDs. You just have to find the way to reach them. So what does it take exactly to start your own label?  

DIY management according to Danko Jones
Good management is key to a band’s survival. In most cases, it is the manager who is working 24-7 to get things done to further the band’s career, while the band itself is enjoying the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. However, some bands, like Canadian rockers Danko Jones, take things into their own hands. Bassist John Calabrese, a.k.a. JC, has been taking care of Danko Jones’ management for thirteen years now. He and front man Danko talk about the pros and cons of self-management.  

Artist Management: the business of rock ‘n’ roll
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School speaks with Rune Lem, head promoter of Live Nation Norway and manager of Maria Mena, about his career in the music business and about what it takes to be a good manager.  

Networking events
The internet has made the world a lot smaller obviously. You don’t have to sit around the office at night to make calls to countries in different time zones anymore. But sometimes business runs smoother when you meet the person you’re dealing personally. So when you get a chance to meet thousands of potential business partners and see hot new acts, why not take it? There are plenty of options when you want to expand your network in the music industry. Rock 'n' Roll High School has selected some of the most useful network events and networking tips for you.    

Tax obstacles for artists
Artists experience special tax treatment internationally. Some tax rules come from general principles, but others come from the views that governments have from the tax behaviour of artists. With protective rules they believe to counteract tax avoidance and non-compliance with the normal tax rules. But are these views right? And how does the special tax treatment affect the income and the activities of artists? What are the problems and are there solutions available? 

It’s often said that the only real profit a band will make is in the merchandise. But what sells and what doesn’t? How much can you reasonably charge for a girly? Which colours are popular? Suppose you’re planning a three week European tour. You’re planning to play about 20 shows to about 250 head a night. What do you need to stock the perfect merchandise stand? Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked the advice of a few professional merchandisers.  

Merchandise entrepreneur
Merchandising can be a major source of income for bands, but can be quite a hassle to take care of. Esther Lutgendorff is the owner of Ka-Ching Merchandising. She has managed to establish a solid reputation since she started the company in the Netherlands in 2008 by doing the merchandising sales, administration and transport for several acts. The young entrepreneur has definitely found her niche in the music industry: “I realized that this is what bands need: someone to go with them on tour to take care of the merchandise, taking it off the band’s mind.”  

How to become a famous DJ
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked renowned DJs and dance producers Kruder & Dorfmeister and Niki Belucci about the secrets of their success. 

The legendary Molotow club
When the Beatles first left England to grace this earth with legendary music in 1960, the initial spark was a 48-night rockstar bender two blocks down from Hamburg’s venue, Molotow. The Reeperbahn's historic nature of driving visitors to debauchery was no exception for four Liverpool moptops: the overindulgence of sex and drugs, arson arrests for burning condoms, and George Harrison's eventual deportation is just scratching the surface. 

European festivals
Practically each European city has its own festival. Some are small and only draw a few locals, some are huge and attract people from all over the world. The best festivals don’t just offer music, they do everything within their power to give their attendees an experience of a lifetime. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked six organizers about their festivals.  

Fan clubs
Three weeks of cocooning in your sleeping bag to get tickets for a concert, always wearing a G-string with the image of your favourite singer and hitting the pub with the band after a concert; for some music fanatics this is the highest good. But who exactly are these fan club fans?  

Building a fan base
Without fandom there would be no stardom. You need people who like your music enough to be willing to spend their hard-earned cash on your downloads, CDs, tickets or merchandise. Of course you’re a true artist and aren’t in it for the money, but even then you’ll need it to invest in new equipment, or to get your records out or maybe even something frivolous like food. Where do you find these angels? And how do you keep them once you’ve found them?  

Kick-ass promo - Josh Freese
We would have loved to have been able to give you an example of a European band with a highly creative and innovative way of attracting attention for the release of a new record. But in all fairness the one person who has finally came up with the funniest, most exhausting, but oh so effective way to promote an album is an American: Josh Freese. 

Music and video games: a perfect marriage?
The question is often asked whether video games can save the music industry. We won’t be able to give a straight forward answer, but we can explore the merger of music and video games. A short history of the video game soundtrack, and a closer look at the combination of music, video games, artists, art games, soundtracks and the music industry. 

Question of Style
Does image matter? Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked Triggerfinger, The Raveonettes, Madcon and Stream Of Passion about their image, their favorite stage wear and their style advice.  

Suppose you’ve spent weeks in the studio working on a production. The mix is finished and it sounds awesome. What you really want to do now is present your CD to the public as soon as possible. Then you notice that the music doesn’t sound equally good everywhere. Outside the studio the result is a bit iffy. How come your favourite CDs don’t seem to have this problem? 

Get a job
Go to a concert, ask any random person if they would like a job in the music industry and they will full-heartedly answer “Yes!” A job in the music industry, it sounds so cool, but hardly anyone really knows what people in the music industry actually do and even less know how much (or rather how little) these jobs really have got to do with music. Rock 'n' Roll High School selected 15 of the most wanted jobs in music.  

Daily intake of music
Everyone in love with music can remember at least three scenes from Spinal Tap. But apart from this classic there are more movies and books that matter.

You want to expand your knowledge of the music industry, but you don’t have enough time to read this entire magazine? To make your life a little easier, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly used terminology. The list is far from complete, but if you memorize it, it will give you just enough of a vocabulary to at least make you sound like a European music business professional.     

European cities
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School took a closer look at their three favourite European cities: Berlin, Rotterdam and Reykjavik.  

My rules
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School asked 15 music professionals about the most important things that they’ve learnt in their career; their “rules”. Drink tea with honey before you go on stage, never let your girlfriend manage the band, take a mechanic course before you go on tour, don’t sleep with fans, sell purple shirts at your merchandise stand or don’t drink in the studio. You’ll get the best advice from people that really know what they’re talking about.