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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trop Rock Promotion: What's The Second Most Important Promo?

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Recently I had made a post on Facebook regarding someone inviting me to attend a Trop Rock festival concert up in Tampa, an eight hour drive, so that I could watch someone else play. I had to have a little fun with this one. I posted that was akin to taking a race horse to a race so he could watch the other horse’s race. 

I had little doubt that I was just on a mailing list and by happenstance, I ended up as a recipient of the invitation. However, I enjoyed the analogy, as it was both funny and accurate at the same time.

Jim Jowsey, who is the program director at The Shore radio in New York, one of the carriers of both of our podcasts, made a very good observation about it all however.  Jim suggested that because I’m involved in so many different promotional aspects of Trop Rock, perhaps some people are not aware that I’m also a songwriter/musician. That was an eye opener!

Just to set the record on that straight:
1    1)     First and foremost I am a songwriter and a musician
2    2) As a songwriter, I’ve been published in Nashville since 2000 with McClure & Trowbridge
3    3) My first Trop Rock song was written in 1994 “Wahoo Sunrise”.. twenty one years ago.

Regarding what Jim suggested, I suppose it’s a risk that I have to take. I’m not going to change. Perhaps I do need to fine tune some things however? I’ll figure it out! Thanks Jim! 

In all things that I’ve been passionate about, I’ve always felt the most important thing to do is to share it with others. In doing so, there will always be a certain percentage of people that fall into the interest. Some will be gun-ho, others eighty percent, fifty percent, thirty percent, so on and so forth. In some cases people will not embrace my passion at all. That’s okay too! If someone gives it a try and it’s not for them, hey, at least they tried it! You have to love people who are willing to look at something and give it a shot, especially if it goes against their personal grain!

For myself it’s always been prevalent with beer and music. I also have a love for various types of auto racing, but a sport is something that is much of a chore in exposing someone to, so it’s a matter of diminished return for the time invested. Beer and music, on the other hand are just the opposite!

It is so rewarding when someone kindles an interest you may not have ever known existed. It’s likewise just as fun being the person who starts that fire. In both cases, it brings like-minded people together.

In my mind, it’s very, very important to give back to the whole genre that you are working in, if one expects it to grow. I see so many performers all about promoting themselves. Frankly, I get that. It’s the number one responsibility they have to themselves! No argument there at all. 

The thing is, so few ever get to the number two responsibility!  There are so many that are so wound up with the number one responsibility, that they don’t even know there is a number two responsibility!

Let’s take a look at the beer side of this equation, for a moment. I recently bought into a bar, but long before that I was involved as a patron, and saw things from that perspective. How about we use the Key West Beer Festival as an example? I see this all the time however. On Sunday we had representatives from all sorts of breweries at The Cork and Stogie. We carry over sixty beers. A rep from say, Lagunitas Brewing, orders a Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA. Not only is he/she drinking it, but they are also heaping it with praise, left and right. They are wearing a Lagunitas shirt, so everyone knows who they are and what they represent, yet they are all over someone else’s beer telling everyone in the bar how good it is! If it’s not Laganitas, it might be someone from Anderson Valley doing the same thing with Bell’s, or someone from Biscayne Bay Brewing praising the beer from Sweetwater, while they are all excited about MIA’s beers!

Does that strike you as being odd? Where’s the competition atmosphere anyway? Aren’t they supposed to be duking it out with each other in an alley next to the bar, as one would expect reps from Budweiser and Miller to be doing? Not in their minds. Their philosophy is the entire antithesis of the Budweiser VS Miller crew.

Now let’s compare that with Trop Rock musicians. Overall, 90+% of Trop Rock musicians are all about promoting themselves. As I mentioned earlier, that is their first priority. However, as I also mentioned earlier, that’s all they do. Everything with that ninety something percent is “ME! ME! ME!”.  They only thing they talk about is themselves. “I’m doing this and I’m doing that. I’ll be here this week and there next week. Today I’m out on my boat, beautiful day!” While these things are essential in being a public figure, they are not promoting the roller coaster that they are riding on.

Where is Trop Rock going? That’s a question I have a feeling that most Trop musicians aren’t willing to address. 

How about we look at a statistic. I am acquainted with someone in the media, and specifically he works with a television station. In this capacity he has easy access to statistics on virtually anything. He does a good amount of work in the Trop Rock industry as well. I was at a gig and asked him if he ever looked into the stats on how many Trop Rock fans existed in the world today. His response was immediate and to the point. From the moment that I finished my question to the point of his direct answer was what we call in music, a “quarter note”. “Two Million” was his answer.  I was surprised pleasantly by the number.

Next is the big question regarding that number: Is it two million and counting, two million and holding, or two million and dwindling? At the moment, our most optimistic outlook is that it’s holding. We’re picking up around the same amount of new fans as we are losing fans. That’s on a good day. There are bad days as well.

Okay, with that in mind, let’s go back to our friendly brewers! In the late 1970’s there were 200 breweries in the United States. About that time there were a few microbreweries around, the first having been Anchor in San Francisco, which was an eleventh hour financial rescue by a college student named Fritz Maytag in 1965. A little less than ten years later, other breweries started popping up, unquestionably inspired by Anchor’s products. By the late 1970’s you could most likely count the amount of microbreweries on your fingers.

By the end of 2015/2016 there are expected to be 5000 breweries in the United States. That’s 4,800 more than there were in the late 1970’s!
Read that again please: 4,800 MORE than in the late 1970’s.

How did they do it?

They did it by doing something that is pretty much not being done in the Trop Rock industry. If you recall, in the Trop Rock (and music in general) field it’s “Me! Me! Me! Promotion”.
What the new brewers did was, in addition to promoting themselves individually they equally promoted the Microbrew/Craft Beer industry!

Remember above the individual reps from unrelated breweries heaping praise on one another’s beers? They worked together, from individual standpoints in promoting the industry itself. Four thousand eight hundred breweries later, I think calling it a success is a vast understatement.

Lets put it in another perspective: Ten years ago craft beer (then known as micro-brews) amounted to .2% of the beer sales in the U.S. Today it's at 11%. Hello. That's a 5,400% increase!

Can Trop Rock musicians do something along the same lines? Of course they can!

Here’s what I’ve been doing and maybe it will give some others ideas on what they can do? After all, we’ve got that creative gene, don’t we? ;-)

    1) I write this blog as often as I can. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes Key West/Keys happenings. However it’s always something of interest to those who follow our genre and participate in the lifestyle, be it local, or vicariously. As of this moment, we have 126,593 views.
   2)   I started the beer show when DK and Amo approached me about doing a segment on their show Island Time Radio a few years ago. It’s still running! Along with all of their other weekly guests, it promotes Trop Rock’s lifestyles. Our crew has expanded as well with Dani Hoy who is both a personality on the show, as well as the editor.
    3)      The beer show segued into the podcast “Key West Beer Tales – The Sum Of All Beers”  and is currently carried on ten Trop stations, as well as iTunes:
    4)      At The same time Dani Hoy and I started the music podcast, we started a music show “The Key West Music Show – Conch Rockin’ in the Keys”, which focuses on music both made and played in the Keys. We promote both local artists and visiting artists. The show is carried on all of the same stations that the beer show is. IT IS UP FOR A TRMA AWARD!!!
     5)    Publishing a book, “Bar Stories”, under the name and definition of “Key West Chris Rehm, Trop Rock songwriter, musician, performer, and author.
     6)   I recently bought into The Cork and Stogie Bar in Key West (1218 Duval St.). We have had one Trop Rock Station broadcast from there (Tiki Island) and have another (Radio A1A) scheduled for MOTM Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (November 6,7, 8)
     7)     Bartending With Boris mixed drink videos. Entirely ridiculous videos which promote everything Key West, with a slant angled at Trop Rock in most videos.
     8)     Started a Facebook page to help encourage the growth and development of the Trop Rock genre.

So those are a few of the things that we do here in Key West to help promote Trop Rock itself, from many angles. The bottom line is if we can all focus on Trop Rock growing, across the board we all have a better genre to work within.

The radio stations, most of which are a labor of love, will actually flourish.
More business for promoters 
Performers will fatten their bank accounts. 

Think about it. It's entirely possible that the shows that Dani and I do, could actually be putting more people in a show in say, California all because someone heard us and said "I have to check out this Trop Rock music I've been hearing about!".

At the end of the day, performers have to realize that they are just another fish in the water. If they want the water filled with plankton, it’s their responsibility to fertilize the harvest.

Let’s all take the example that the brewing industry has laid on the table, as an example of what a marvelous cornucopia can be had with the right focus. They went from 200 to 5000 breweries, working collectively in the same direction.

Your number two responsibility is promoting the entire genre!  

What can you do for number two? 

Give it some thought: What can you do to help the industry grow?

It's good karma.

Trop Rock can grow, just as the craft beer grew (and continues to to so). It can be done!

Photo by Thomas E. Liddle in the 1960's
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  1. This is fantastic Chris. You hit it right on the nail. If the Trop rock Artists promote the Genre it could grow more with each passing day. I hope more people will see this and pay it forward.

  2. This is fantastic Chris. You hit it right on the nail. If the Trop rock Artists promote the Genre it could grow more with each passing day. I hope more people will see this and pay it forward.

  3. The best way to promote the genre, is to promote each other as one. Promoting themselves is the old school way. To promote others and have them promote you is the 21st Century way of doing things and it works. One hand washing the other and everything grows together. Some get it, some are learning, and others don't have a clue.

  4. Couple things... First, Trop Rock musicians, for the most part, have laid a foundation for this plan in that when there is a group event, the musicians are always working together as a team. You never see them treating other musicians as competition. That's one of the aspects of trop rock music that I have always admired. Second point is that the movie about Parrot Heads will have an impact on the media and on the general public learning about trop rock music. I realize that more than just Parrot Heads appreciate trop rock music, but the fact that there is a motion picture about to be released on who we are, will certainly have some impact. Synergy is always the best rule of thumb to accomplish major goals. Well done, Chris and Dani, and thank you for all that you do.