Community Radio Brainstorm: We Are Not Alone

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Brainstorm1Post by Sabrina Roach, Brown Paper Tickets Public Media Doer

As director of Brown Paper Tickets’ National Make Radio Challenge, I helped as many nonprofit organizations as possible learn about the opportunity to apply for a free low-power FM radio license in 2013. This year, I’m assisting applicants in building capacity so they can successfully get on the air and start broadcasting to local communities.

I’m co-facilitating a public community brainstorm tonight, April 17, 2014, at Historic Takoma in Takoma Park, MD. We’ll talk about what’s going on nationally with low-power FM radio and Historic Takoma’s local effort to create low-power FM community radio. Even if they don’t get the radio frequency, they will have a great foundation for any kind of community media project. At the very least, they will have more of a focus on telling their own stories by making their own media.

If your organization was one of the 2,780 nonprofits, colleges and faith organizations that applied for a low-power FM (LPFM) frequency through the Federal Communications Commission last November—and especially if you are one of the 1,137 who’ve already had your application accepted by the FCC—there are many community radio stations already on the air that are happy to share their knowledge and experience with you. One of the best ways to find roughly 250 of them is to join the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. They have a listserve where people trade technical assistance and thoughts on community radio. All questions get answered either by peers or Federation staff. They also have group buys on music royalties and equipment.

Their next conference is May 28 – 31 in Reston, VA. I’m on a team with experienced community radio advocates to produce a free day-long intensive workshop for LPFMs on May 27 from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Stay tuned to my Doer Brown Paper Tickets community page. I’ll share panels and workshops I’m producing as well as “how-to” guides. Why would this event ticketing company send me out on this mission? Because Brown Paper Tickets’ Not-Just-For-Profit mission is to build communities and the company believes low-power FM radio is a vital tool for local communities.

As a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets, I am supported with a full-time salary and benefits, a travel budget, fiscal and in-kind support, with no metrics for sales of any kind. Read more about my work, and about other Brown Paper Tickets Doers. I am also leading a coalition of community organizations in announcing their applications for a low-power FM radio license. There could be as many as 15 new radio stations in the Puget Sound by 2016.

Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival – Five Picks for 2014

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MariaBamford_300x225Hannibal Buress, Aziz Ansari, Dennis Miller, Colin Quinn and 100-plus additional acts head to Austin, Texas this week for the third annual Moontower Comedy Festival, held next Wednesday through Saturday at venues including The Paramount Theatre, Cap City Comedy Club, The Parish, The Speakeasy, The Hideout and New Movement Theater.

Last year’s festival offered an inclusive, community spirit, not to mention great stand-up courtesy of Amy Schumer, Reggie Watts, Pete Holmes, Dana Carvey and more. In addition to a newly-added cookout and ping pong tournament, here are five of the most exciting events to catch at Moontower 2014.

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Beer Release: How to Host a Party

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Own a budding new brewery? Successfully crafted brew for decades? Freshly minted nano-brewer? Share news about your latest hoppy libation by throwing a beer release, a prime opportunity to gain new customers and reward existing fans. Beer releases become market research labs. Tune into customer feedback and gain valuable insights into their preferences and tastes. Bonus: These events just might spur new beer batch ideas.

beer and brew releasesSelect a Perfect Venue
Beer release locations are key. If your brewery holds capacity for guests, this would make a spectacular location. Need a space? Reach out to some of the businesses you sell to. They will have incentive to help advertise new beer to sipping enthusiasts. A win-win. Pick a venue that fits your company or brewery personality and offers a setting suitable for coiffing your brew. Venues set the mood for your beer release. Provide the venue with branded swag and signage a few weeks prior to the event so the place can advertise for you. Note: Distributors often take care of this step for larger breweries. Don’t let this slip through the crack for your release.

Set the Mood
Keep your beer release simple. The fewer moving parts to an event the easier it is to engage your fans and enjoy the ride. After all, the main attraction is drinking beer. Arrive well before the event to set up, prepare for last-minute (or unexpected) logistics and be ready for loyal fans. Bring giveaways. Make sure you are open and available to speak with everyone. Attendees adore opportunities for face time with brewers and owners. Put your social game face. Beer releases where you circulate also open you up networking possibilities that could boost your business. Make sure a brew master or official representative who has intimate knowledge of the beer is there to chat with attendees. Prepare for questions about chemistry, ingredients or equipment. Chances are home brewers and beer geeks will attend and they are as passionate about the craft as the final product.

beer and brew release eventsEngage Your Crowd
Drawings interest any audience. Give away pint glasses or t-shirts and you not only give a gift, but the receiver can advertise for you every time the gift is used. Tasting together with your customers allows you to you add depth to your brew by giving insights. Talk about the different spices and ingredients. Point out key notes that your fans should be tasting. Themed trivia is also another way to captivate eager beer lovers. Study your audience over the course of a few events and bring back interactive favorites at your next beer release.

Plan Ahead to Draw a Crowd
Advanced planning makes all the difference. You will have a captive audience at your beer release, a perfect time to let people know about future events, recent business successes and news. Advertise and ticket your release event well in advance. Waiting until the last few days to release ticket sales may work for some breweries, but don’t count on a sell-out event without advanced ticket sales. Better to have a half full event than cancel due to low sales. Beer drinkers also benefit from early planning to arrange designated drivers and invite friends.

Feed Beer Drinkers
Good beer needs good food. If your host location doesn’t serve food, find a caterer or food truck. Keep it affordable for your brew crew. Anyone throwing a beer release needs to make money back on these event types. But food also says thank you. By have affordable meal choices, guests stay longer, drink harder and smile more. Food and beer combo will keep people coming back for all of your beer release.

Follow Up
Guests are gone. Kegs are empty. Venue is cleaned up. Now what? Take time to reach out to your guests and fellow event producers to thank them for a wonderful time. Send an email to attendees within days after the beer release: thank them for joining, alert them of other events, encourage them to follow you on social media.Ready for inspiration?

Find breweries and other libations celebrated at various beer, wine, spirits events across the United States. Create a beer release event now.

Want more tips or help setting up your beer release through Brown Paper Tickets? We’re here 24/7. And we love beer. Our knowledgeable client service reps are available for events, and our local food & beverage specialist will be happy to help with logistics free of charge. Brown Paper Tickets also offers free promotional assistance. Contact us at (800) 838-3006 or email us at support@brownpapertickets.com.

Brewery image: Bernt Rostad

French Comedy Nights: KALLAGAN en français à New-York

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New YoPhoto_blog_editedrk City is the undeniable epicenter of American standup comedy. There’s an audience for everything. Latin Comedy Night, Italian Comedy Night, Jewish Comedy Night… every evening all over the city, clubs are full of crowds that love to make fun of themselves (and especially each other). No matter who you are, to stay sane in New York City requires an outlet for pent up frustration – and everyone loves to laugh. Even the French.

But until this week, there wasn’t a French Comedy Night to be found anywhere in the five boroughs. That changed on April 3rd at Greenwich Village Comedy Club with the first of what should be many French Comedy Nights from B.Productions. French people love the self-depreciating and often cruel sense of humor that comes from their homeland. Florence Foresti, Gad Elmaleh, Fabrice Éboué… But many have been forced to enjoy some of their favorite standup comedians by themselves because as their friends would affirm, watching comedy with subtitles just isn’t the same.

That’s about to change as the francophone minority in New York finally has an outlet of their own to gather and laugh with (and at) each other. Kallagan kicked it off last night and had no difficulty proving there was an audience for his humor outside the Métropole. He joked about passing through American customs as a “tourist”, the incredible ease of obtaining a driver’s license in America, and showing up drunk to his son’s birth. He used a speculum as a puppet and spent a lot of time questioning the gynecologist’s qualifications. He also hopes to use his accent to attract an American woman but so far has had no such luck.

Kallagan is a rare example of a near instant success story in the world of standup comedy. He has quickly built a loyal audience in France and abroad since his first show 8 years ago. He’s starred in televised specials, performed in seven different countries, and opened for some of France’s biggest names in comedy. Not bad for someone still in his 20′s.

B.Production’s first French Comedy Night was a big success, filling a vacuum for the city’s vast and diverse French-speaking population. Greenwich Village Comedy Club was packed with students, couples and “tourists” (hey, it’s been 3 months, time to renew that visa), some even traveling in from different states. For the next French Comedy Night, Kallagan will return on Tuesday April 8th for the last of two NYC performances before continuing his U.S. tour. Tickets are only $20 for a guaranteed good time. Get your tickets soon, show up early, and keep a look out for more French comedy journeying across the Atlantic.

Post by Victor Chovil, Brown Paper Tickets’ New York City Outreach Representative.

Big Stair Climb Fundraiser for Cancer

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big climb 2014Exhilarating, overwhelming, inspiring and easier than you think. That’s my experience of the Big Climb, Seattle’s annual fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. On March 23, we Brown Paper Ticketeers were among 6,000 climbers culminating months of fundraising with the 1,311 stair ascent to the top of Seattle’s tallest building. Our team’s average climb time was 22 minutes and we have raised $4,251.11.

The LLS funds research and provides resources for patients and families coping with blood cancers. Some of the climbers are survivors and the rest are friends, relatives, general health nuts and other supporters. Climbing waves embark every 15 minutes all day. Between the physical crush of so many people milling around on event day and the emotional crush of why we gather, stairs themselves almost seem trivial.

Big Climb 2014 3This was my 3rd year taking the challenge. A few minutes of leisure riding the escalator from the check-in level to the Columbia Tower entrance. A moment of fresh air as we exit the building to enter the fire escape stairwell. Then it’s on. The first few flights pass quickly with an adrenaline rush. Then crowds begin to thin. It’s risky to count the floors as you climb or take a break. You share knowing glances and quick words of encouragement with strangers as you go, and a light-headed sense of accomplishment when you make it to the top. Every floor landing has posters of loved ones who passed away, which is enough to keep you going no matter how much your calves burn. On a clear day, a gorgeous view greets you from the 73rd floor observation deck. 788 vertical feet of stairs. Worth every minute and every dollar to give hope to cancer patients and their families.

Post by Erika Harder, Brown Paper Tickets advanced client service specialist. Erika and colleague Stephanie each used 1 hour of Brown Paper Tickets paid time on. What’s that? Part of our company’s not-just-for-profit business model includes 40 hours of paid time annually (for all 85 employees) to serve nonprofits.

Comedy Critique: Jackie Kashian

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screen shot 2014-02-18 at 55930 pmBlog post courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit TakeSelected blog post by Nick A. Zaino III

Jackie Kashian begins her new special, This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux, with a couple of notes up front, away from her audience. For the uninitiated, she explains that a “horcrux” is a Harry Potter reference, an object that contains her soul. She may not look or sound like a prototypical “dork,” but she does host a podcast called The Dork Forest, and her dork cred becomes hilariously obvious later on. The second thing she does is congratulate her audience on their choice of downloading the special, with the corollary that seeing stand-up comedy live is the best way to experience it.

Horcrux was taped at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis, and it feels like everything a good night out at a comedy club should be. Kashian is smart, bracing without being bitter, and she knows how to keep the punchlines rolling without seeming manic or insincere. It’s the kind of set that might make those who look down on “club comedy” as the petri dish of the lowest common denominator in stand up reconsider.

Of course that’s not a fight Kashian is taking on in an obvious sense. She takes on stand-up stereotypes that bug her because, as she says, she loves comedy, and she’ll do comedy wherever they’ll let her. Her first line in the live set after introductions is “I’m overweight. You may consider that addressed.” Translation: no tired fat jokes will follow. Kashian does, however, address her appearance further to establish a sense of place rather than to self-deprecate. Where she grew up in Wisconsin, she’s a solid six. In L.A., where she lives now, she’d be cast as an airport cop.

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Comedy Outliers-The Times They Are A-Changin’

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COwebaprilGuest post by Brandon Collins and Mike Brown of Comedy Outliers. They offer advice to comedians and performers on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive artistic climate.

It was time to make a decision and it would not be an easy one. After producing an “Outliers” show for a private YELP event and hosting a successful 2-year show, we were offered an amazing opportunity to bring our talents to Webster Hall. It was a bittersweet moment for us as we wanted to remain loyal to Lilly O’Briens, but with their new construction delayed indefinitely and our following growing more each week, we had to take this opportunity. We were given the chance to run our show just the way we have in the past but this time with the support of a business with a high profile and its own following. Everything’s perfect right?

This is where our dilemma came. After 2 years of hosting free monthly showcases, this new relationship with Webster Hall would allow us to book top talent but at a cost. A $10 cover. Our main concern with this new cover admission? Would our fans come? We had been providing what we felt was a great product that garnered strong praise from comics, positive word of mouth amongst our audience and the attention of NY publications. But this had all been for free. Would this work? In this brief lapse of confidence,  we began to worry about whether or not this would work. However, this moment also brought some clarity. If after 2 years, our fan base wasn’t willing to pay an admission charge for our showcase, which had been consistent and praised then maybe it’s not as successful as we thought. After months of hearing various audience members tell us, “You should be charging SOMETHING for this amazing show!” It was now time to see if they would come through for us. It was a huge leap of faith but with the turn-out of more than 50 people during our first showcase in early March, we were proud of our decision. Not only were we able to pay all of our talent, we were also able to purchase better raffle prizes, invest in a new “Comedy Outliers” banner and new podcast equipment.

This is the next step in our evolution. It’s risky and requires even more work on our part when it comes to marketing, producing and executing a show that has helped us build a mailing list of hundreds. We are excited, nervous and thankful for this opportunity to work with Webster Hall on expanding the Outliers brand. Year 3 looks very promising.

Comedy Outliers next show on Saturday, April 5 has a $10 cover with no drink minimum. Buy advance tickets. Support their efforts by hitting the “Donate” button on their website.

Brown Paper Tickets Rates #1 in Event Registration and Ticketing

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FindTheBest, a research engine reaching 20 million visits monthly, rates Brown Paper Tickets the #1 choice for ticketing and event registration services, with a Smart Rating of 100. FindTheBest crunches big data to allow users to research and compare products and services in a growing set of industries – entertainment, software, sports, education, more. Like a digital Consumer Reports.

“This independent review website filled a void in the ticketing industry that’s long overdue, providing side-by-side comparison of services for event planners and ticket buyers,” said Steve Butcher, CEO of Brown Paper Tickets.

The New York Times and Tech Crunch tout FindTheBest while numerous reporters mine the data for stories in Time Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and other media outlets.

findthebest-ranking

Transparency and Truth in Service Fees

“Credit card processing fees are a complicated issue in the online ticketing industry,” said FindTheBest’s representative. “Some companies allow customers to use their own credit card processor, while others do not, and processing rates can vary drastically, making it difficult to estimate your final costs. Our goal is to provide a clearer picture for event managers so they can make an informed decision.”

Ticketing companies that don’t reveal upfront all transaction fees make it impossible for event planners to know exactly what their ticket buyers will pay. And they receive a lower rating on FindTheBest because of this. The price-comparison chart uncovers a little-known fact that ticketing companies almost always charge hidden credit card transaction fees on top of their own published fees.

Event organizers and ticket buyers can easily compare by feature and services (24/7 customer care, group rates, etc.) as well as industries (music, fundraising, etc.). Each ticketing company feature listed on FindTheBest is independently verified by the company’s researchers.

Smart Choice Award for Brown Paper Tickets

With Brown Paper Tickets 100% rating and #1 rank for all ticketing and event registration companies, we also qualified for Find the Best’s “Smart Choice Award.” This label helps consumers looking for a quick reference to services that provide the best features and value for the price.

Brown Paper Tickets rates first for event registration and ticketing

NYC Beer and Brewing History

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beerweek2014mhedits33percentThis week on Foodie Friday, we have a guest blog from The Beer Wench, also known as Jena Ellenwood. Ellenwood is an Astoria, New York based actress, writer, bartender and beer geek. Jena is a graduate of The New School and is currently studying for her Cicerone License. She enjoys a good story and a good brew, and usually finds one leads to the other.

I am a beer geek. There, I said it. While reviewing the plethora of events for this year’s NY Craft Beer—dinners, tastings, parties—I got most excited when my eyes fell on Drink Local: NYC Beer and Brewing History panel discussion in Brooklyn. My sister Liz joined me and we hit the town.

Covenhoven, a cozy little taproom that opened March 2nd, was our host for the evening. Bill and Molly, the husband and wife team behind Covenhoven, were warm and welcoming, as was their establishment. One wall of the shop displays old kitschy beer trays, while the opposite wall is kept free to host rotating murals painted by local artists. In the summer the front garage doors will roll up, and the doors to the patio will be left open. Turns out they use to run an art gallery in the space, but after having a few pints and being inspired by other local beer centric joints–Bierkraft and Spuyten Duyvil–they decided to merge their loves of art, community, and beer to open a kick-ass little spot to merge all three.

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Brown Crew Tackles SXSW 2014

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sxsw-ericSouth by Southwest. Stretched over 11 days at countless locations in the capital of Texas, this must be the largest event of its kind in the US. So many different voices from seemingly disparate worlds of technology, film and music all shouting above the other in an attempt to be heard over the near constant cracking of high 5s from fans. It can be polarizing, overwhelming and exhilarating.

A Brown Paper Ticket team was on the ground in Austin to keep the peace, spread the good news about affordable, full-service event ticketing and stay awake long after the party to bring you all of the dirt.

Trade Show Tech Talk
It all started with a 4-day trade show showcasing the most current and cutting-edge in entertainment technologies. Smart and shiny gadgets and displays, to be sure. But a lot to digest. Hot on the lips of most visitors to the Brown Paper Ticket’s booth was the topic of APIs and digital integration. Luckily, Brown Paper Tickets offers a bevy of developer tools and options for integrating our services into your platform.

sxswbooth1If you want to learn more, contact us at support@brownpapertickets.com.

Film Geeks
Then film geeks rolled in. Thousands of movies from all genres garnered long lines and generated lots of buzz throughout the convention center venues, cinemas and theaters around Austin. Not one to pass up a controversy, I attended the 4K scan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Seeing the cult classic in the setting of its namesake with the creator in attendance was just too good to pass up.

Music, Metal and Feet-Filled Streets
As the trade show ended and we packed up our booth, down time was imminent. Boy were we mistaken. One million people seemed to descend upon downtown Austin, packing streets and sidewalks with raucous festival-goers all seeking sonic satisfaction. Having a head full of music myself, I quickly became ensconced in the never-ending tidal wave of band after band, venue after venue. I must’ve walked 40 miles hitting more than 50 venues over the next 4 days.

lynvalgoldingI have a penchant for the heavier stuff, so made it a point to check out a couple of bands that have used Brown Paper Tickets services along the way. First stop was The Dirty Dog to see local Olympia/Seattle favorites Christian Mistress. If old-school, witchy-heavy metal is your thing, this is your band. It’s great to see a band still delivering the darkness.

Later, I found myself again at The Dirty Dog to catch one of the most talked about live acts of the year, Whores from Atlanta. Trust me when I tell you that the energy coming off of these dudes is enough to make you lose your face right there in the club. Malevolent and hyper, if you can only see one live band this year, make sure you catch this one. They’ll make you smile and yell.

Directly after having my brain scrambled by those crazy Atlantans, I hopped straight into a pedicab and sped off to my own gig playing percussion with legendary Lynval Golding (of The Specials) and fellow Brown Paper Ticket colleague and music maven, Billy Geoghegan. At this point in the evening, I was really thankful for sensible shoes.

As the next day came and went, so did the SXSW festival. 11 days had passed in a whirlwind and on day 12, it was pleasantly quiet. We had just lived through what is most certainly spring break for the entertainment industry.

Austin, may we meet again next year.

Live well. But don’t be foolish. Like the drunk driver who, at this year’s SXSW event, killed and injured people in a shocking tragedy. It happened a mere 2 blocks from our hotel. To support the victims, you can donate to SXSWcares. Carpe diem. Life is short.

Post by Eric Peterson, Brown Paper Tickets client services tech manager. He began playing drums at age 8 and began working events in his teens. Eric has played with many artists on many stages, most notably the notorious Electric Hellfire Club.