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How To Benefit From A Benefit
By Chris Standring

I took part in a benefit last week. A charity event for the red cross 911 disaster relief fund. Turned out to be a very successful show. Lots of tv stars, comedians from Saturday Night Live, day time soap actors, pop stars new and old and musicians up the yin yang. Every body threw in their two cents for a great cause. Egos were left at the door. It was a tremendous show and a ton of money was raised. I felt good just being there among friends, doing as much as we could. The spirit was wonderful. But it also got me thinking.....

There were some very well known acts appearing on the bill as well as a few not so well known acts. Some were not known at all but were extremely talented performers who happened to know the event co-ordinator. This was indeed a celebrity gala event. It was also more than that. It was a platform to be seen in front of a non judgemental audience.

It seems to me that there is an avenue here for creative people to muse over. First I would insist that putting on a benefit has to be completely and absolutely about that. The cause itself has to be 100% top priority. You cannot hope to win if the benefit is all about you! However, let's be realistic and assume that you are sincerely interested in organising a fund raiser. Here's what you might think about doing:
  • Get together with three other bands (very easy to find!) and propose the idea of an "independent artists against blah blah blah" (insert charity here) concert event. Possibly rope in a couple of comedians (try to get good ones please - there's really nothing worse!) Designate an MC.

  • Find a venue and discuss the idea with the promotions people, see what kind of break they will give you on the rental. They may even let you have the venue for nothing.

  • Make sure all performing artists are advertised in local newspapers, internet sites etc. Flyer coffee houses and so on.

  • Approach music trade magazines and local newspapers and get them to talk up the event. (They will be far more responsive to writing about a charity like this than talking up your unknown band).

  • Get t-shirts made up with all artists names printed on them and sell them at the show. If you can afford to - give them away.

  • Give away your sample CD's.

  • Host a silent auction before the show. Get people to donate to the cause.

  • Try to do a local radio interview announcing the event. Involve the radio station if possible.

  • Be as creative as you can about getting the word out about your event.

  • Collect names for your mailing list.
You will be surprised at how incredibly helpful and responsive people will be if the event is for a good cause. You can and should benefit with a good amount of exposure as a result of your hard work. If you raise a couple thousand bucks to help feed a few starving kids then everybody wins right? Just some thoughts to be thinking about if you are wondering what to do right now...

Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R Online (www.aandronline.com). He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com


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