Year End Wrap Up: 2015 Edition

Alright, it’s time for the blog I’ve been meaning to write for days and in a few hours writing it will be pointless so here we go. It’s my year end wrap up blog! What a year it has been. I’ve had some great new experiences as a musician and as a teacher, and the Quintet and I have had some fantastic experiences as well.

One of the more exciting things we did this year was taking the band outside of Saskatoon for the first time. Technically the first time we did that was in the final days of 2014, but who cares. Our other two out of town excursions were for weddings; one at the beautiful Elk Ridge Resort in Northern Saskatchewan and the other in my hometown of Biggar. I’d like to thank Elenee and Jeremiah, and Kristina and Chris for having us as a part of your big days. We had a blast at both weddings!

The Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival was also particularly good to myself and my band this year. The Quintet played two shows at the festival; one on the Experience Downtown Free Stage, and the other on the PotashCorp Club Jazz Free Stage. I also had the opportunity to play with the Drew Tofin Big Band and the University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble at Club Jazz as well. I’d like to send out a big thank you to Saskatchewan Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Kevin Tobin and the staff, board, and volunteers at the Jazz Festival for giving young musicians like myself and the Quintet such fantastic  opportunities year after year!

I was also very fortunate to be a part of two album release concerts this year. The first was the release of Drew Tofin’s ‘One Night’ on March 7th at Louis’ Pub and the second was the University of Saskatchewan Jazz Ensemble’s Bumper Crop VI: Continuance on June 13th in Quance Theatre. Both concerts were an absolute blast to be a part of! Thank you to Drew for continuing to include me as a part of the Drew Tofin Big Band, and thank you to Dean McNeill, director of the UofS Jazz Ensemble, for bringing me back to play in the alumni band for this album release.

Perhaps the biggest moment of 2015 was when we launched my website. On May 18th we officially unveiled www.marcholtmusic.com to the world. It was such huge leap forward in my career and there are a few people/organizations that I could not have done it without, the first being Creative Saskatchewan, who helped fund the creation of this website. It would not have happened without their support. The second is Kaelen Klypak at SaskMusic who helped me through the process of apply for the grant. It was the first grant I had ever applied for and his help was instrumental in my successful application. Third, and possibly most important, is my good friend and band-mate Bryn Becker who designed and created the website. I was unbelievably happy with how it turned out. It looked so much better than I could have even imagined!

This year there was also a lot of performances that weren’t new to us, but still very much appreciated.  We played four more shows at Prairie Ink this year and we always have a blast. Thank you to Marcy Hildebrand for bringing us back over and over again. As well, one of our biggest supporters has always been the University of Saskatchewan.  We performed at nine different events hosted by the University of Saskatchewan in 2015 and we appreciate each and every one of them. For that, a big thank you goes out to Heather Dawson and Meagan Mann.

I’d be a terrible band leader if I didn’t take the time to thank my band mates in the Marc Holt Quintet. These guys put up with a lot from me and from the bottom of my heart I appreciate everything they do. So to Michael, Bryn, Nevin, and Dylan, thank you for everything you have done to help me make this all happen over the last year and I am so excited to continue playing with you guys in 2016 and beyond.

I also need to send a thank you out to my family and friends who I could not do this without. Most important of which is my beautiful and fantastic fiancée Chelsea. You have provided so much support on my journey working as a professional musician and you put up with listening to me practice, complaining about difficult clients, or whatever I happen to be complaining about day in and day out. I really could not do this without you. Also, a great big thank you goes out to my mom and dad who to this day drive the hour each way from Biggar to Saskatoon to come to almost every public show I play. Thank you for the support you have provided over the years. I would not be who I am today without you.

Last, but not least, thank you to all of the fans. I know that most of you fall into the category of friends and family, but all the same a big thank you to one and all, whether you like me because you’re my friend or because you like my music (or both)!

That just about sums it up. I really hope I didn’t miss anyone, but if I did know that I appreciate what you did. 2015 was one of the greatest musical years of my life and 2016 is already shaping up to be even better. Thank you once again to all of you. I will see you in 2016. Happy New Year!

 

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Hiring Musicians: A Helpful How To Guide

The Holiday season being one of the most common times of the year for businesses or individuals to hire musicians/a band to perform at parties and events, I thought it timely to give you all a sort of ‘how to’ on hiring musicians. You may think that it shouldn’t be that challenging, but you would be surprised the things that people don’t realize. So here are some helpful tips to keep in mind year round when you consider hiring musicians.

  1. Musicians are vendors too!

The first and most important thing you need to be ready to do is pony up some money – just like for your photographer and caterer. Musicians are trained professionals and we don’t perform solely for the fun of it. Music doesn’t come cheap. You may think you are just hiring a few people to perform for an hour and that hour is all you are paying for, but there is more to it than that. There is the performance time itself, plus they are probably arriving an hour or more ahead of the performance to set-up and do a sound check, they are going to be there half an hour or more after the performance packing up their equipment. That is just time you will actually see. You are also paying for the hours of rehearsal, both as a group and individually, the cost to get to and from the performance, and the cost of any equipment that needs to be rented for the performance, just to name a few. There are any number of costs factored in, so be prepared! This goes for ALL individuals, companies, and organizations. Fundraisers are not exempt from paying for musicians; I would be willing to bet you aren’t getting everything else for free. One of my university professors told me that the only place that one should perform for free is in their own church. This is the standard that I hold for myself and that I would like to see across the whole industry. Since I am not a religious man, I won’t be playing for free anytime soon.

  1. Know who you are hiring

If you find musicians online or hear about them through word of mouth, make sure you have listened to at least one of their recordings before you contact them. It is incredibly frustrating to have someone phone you to inquire about your band and they have no idea what it is that you actually do! We live in an incredible age where you can type the name of any individual or band in to Google and find out all kinds of things about them. Use this to find exactly what you are looking for and then make contact. It will be less painful for both you and the musicians.

  1. The devil is in the details

Now that you have found the performers of your choosing and they have agreed to perform at your event it is time to work out all of the little details. I know a lot of musicians who are terrible at doing this so if you are prepared it helps everyone. These details may include: what time the show starts, what time it ends, where it is taking place, what time the performers can set-up at, are there any times during the performance that you need the performers to stop for someone to speak. These types of details not only help the performers to prepare, but they also make your event run smoothly. There may be other details that need to be settled; it will be different with each event. Be prepared!

  1. Tell people about us!

This next point only applies to events that are open to the public. Smart musicians will advertise on social media at the very least when they are performing at public events even if the number of people in attendance has no effect on how much they get paid. They want people to see the cool things they are doing and they want people to come out and see the cool things they are doing. They are doing you a favour by bringing more people out to your event, so why not return the favour and advertising that they are performing at your event? It will likely attract people who weren’t interested in your event before, but are not because of who is performing. It helps all of us, so why not just do it?

  1. Be Prepared!

On the day of the event it isn’t so much about what you have to do, but what you need to have prepared. The most important is that when the musicians arrive at the venue at the previously arranged time, that you aren’t now changing their set-up or performance time. They are busy people and they live on schedules like everyone else. Changes complicate things, so try to avoid changes on the day of the event, and if unusual circumstances arise, let your musicians know as soon as possible! You should also know where the band is to set-up if it’s not in a space with an obvious spot such as a stage. You should also consider having a green room (pre/post performance space) for the performers. It isn’t always possible, but it is always appreciated when there is a spot to store our cases, to change, to relax, and to warm up. At the very least have a place to store cases, because nobody wants those randomly strewn about or stacked in a corner of the room. As well, if you have someone acting as MC at the event, make sure the musicians are included in the “thank you’s”. It can be pretty disheartening as a musician to hear the venue, the caterers, the photographer, and everyone else be thanked publicly and the musicians are forgotten. It happens more often than you would think, so don’t let it happen. The last, but most important, thing to do on the day of the performance is have the performer’s payment ready for them. Payment before the performance is a great vote of confidence, but payment immediately after the performance is generally expected. “I’ll mail you a cheque” all too often means the money isn’t coming, so spare everyone the hassle and have the payment ready to go.

After the event is done there is nothing you are expected to do, but it is nice to receive a follow up phone call or e-mail. If you were happy with the performance, we want to hear about it. If you weren’t happy with the performance, we probably don’t want to hear about it, but we probably should. It’s just a small detail that helps to build a good business relationship.

Here are a few other small things to keep in mind through the whole process: Don’t try to change aspects of the artist’s performance; you should be hiring them because their music is what you want for their event. If there is a meal involved with your event, offer to feed the musicians – it’s just a nice thing to do. Don’t leave booking music until the last minute because it will probably cost you more.

I hope you find this guide to booking musicians to be helpful. These are my own opinion on the matter and they may differ from others. If you are a performer or event planner (professional or not) and have additions, disagreements, or questions, please post a comment. I would love to hear from you!

 

 

What would an artistic professional’s blog post be without a little sales pitch! It’s not too late to book me and the band for your holiday parties! If you are reading this after the holiday season, it’s not too late to book us for whatever you may be planning. Visit the contact page to get the ball rolling!

 

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Why I Use Contracts & Why You Should Too

Woot! First real blog post! Let me know what you all think of it and feel free to give me tips and select future topics.

So I get a lot of people asking me why I contract almost every single show I do and even get some of my regular clients complaining about having to sign a contract. Well, I don’t do it just to be a pain in the ass.

I do it because I am running a business. I started doing it because I felt like it added credibility to what I was doing. It showed that I was serious about this and not just some hack doing this for fun on the side because people want the real deal. The ones that are actually hiring musicians (as a rare as that seems to be) want to know that they are getting their money’s worth. Contracts are an easy way to add credibility to what you are doing when your name is unheard of in the market.

Contracts are also a bit of an insurance policy for both the performer and the client. The contact I use states that the client will pay the performer in full if they cancel the event. I have been criticized for this part because people think that there should be a grace period on this or certain conditions, and to be honest I some what agree with that and am looking into changing it. The reason that sections exists is because myself and all of my band mates have other jobs that we have to take time off from to do gigs. If the gig gets cancelled and we have already booked time off of work that is lost income. So that clause of the contract is security for us. For the client, the contract is maybe a little less of a security. They get a piece of paper that we have both signed saying that I will bring my band to event X on day Y to perform from time A to time B. However, they don’t gain or lose anything in the event that we cancel UNLESS they have paid a deposit which I am starting to do more and more. If they pay a deposit and we cancel for any reason obviously the money goes back to the client. What it comes down to is that our clients what to know that we are going to show up for them and we want to know that we are getting paid.

I often get criticized for continuing to require contracts with long time clients. People say I should just drop the contract as a sign of trust, but here’s the thing; it’s not about trust. It’s about BOOK KEEPING. Like I said before, I am running a business here! I have money coming in from clients, I have money going out to employees/contractors (my band mates), and I have expenses. When it comes time to do my taxes, it makes life so much easier with that piece of paper signed by myself and signed by the client saying that they paid me X number of dollars for this job.

So there you have it. That is why I contract almost every gig that I do. Maybe you agree with my reason, maybe you don’t. So here is one more reason for those of you who still don’t like the idea. IT ADDS CREDIBILITY TO WHAT WE AS MUSICIANS DO! We are providing a highly skilled service to our clients and they pay for that. But over the last 40 years people have become less and less interested in paying for it. Run your music like a business to show people that you are as much of a professional as the other people they hired such as the caterer, the event planner, the florist, and the bar tender.

One final thing for you. The contract that I use isn’t one I created. It is drafter by SaskMusic from the Arts Professions Act of Saskatchewan and you can find it here: http://www.saskmusic.org/how-to/contracts-and-templates. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s straight forward, and it’s legit.

Have comments or questions? We have space for that down below!

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Welcome to my new website!

It’s here! Welcome to my brand spankin’ new website!

Take a look around and check back often for new shows, videos, music, and blogs. You can even ask me questions and I can answer them in my blog.

Ask me about my sax life and I will tell you all about my sax problems and all the saxy things I’m doing!

While you are here make sure to check out and follow all of my social media!

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