We all have our hobbies. Some people spend their spare time cooking or baking, others weaving tapestries or pickling vegetables, others making music. Then there’s a special breed of people who spend the majority of their free time going to see other people play music.
People think we’re crazy because of the sheer volume of shows we go to. They ask how we balance work, networking events, social time, and maybe even exercise, all while averaging 8-10+ shows a month. They especially can’t seem to understand how we know about and keep track of all of these bands and shows.
Like most things in life, it’s simply a matter of making it a priority and finding the most efficient way to do whatever makes you happy. For us, that’s going to see live music. Here are 10 “life hacks” (if you will) for fueling your live music obsession without wasting hours at work trying to find the next best show.
1. Set up Twitter notifications + Facebook favorites
If you’re not on Twitter and you want to keep up on the shows that matter most to you, it’s time you join. Set your mobile notifications to receive pop-ups for new tweets by certain people. I do this for BrooklynVegan, DoNYC, BKBazaar, NPRMusic, and after learning a few tough lessons and missing out on some amazing shows, I’ve added a few artists.
Because I get notifications for BrooklynVegan, I was lucky enough to score two free spots to see Alt-J’s NPR Music First Listen performance at (le) Poisson Rouge the other day— a show that was sold out in nine minutes. And it only took maybe two minutes while I was waiting for my sandwich during lunch. 110% worth it.
To do this, download the Twitter app for mobile -> search for one of your favorite music resources -> select the gear icon -> choose “Turn on notifications.”
If you’re not ready to dive into the Twittersphere, you can also be notified when a band updates their status on Facebook. Go to the band’s page -> select the Like drop down -> select “Get notifications.”
2. Create Twitter (or Facebook) Lists
Twitter and Facebook lists are particularly helpful if your job requires you to monitor social media for professional reasons. Set up lists with your favorite artists so that you can passively keep an eye on what’s going on and be able to react to anything that catches your attention.
For me, lists are most effective on Twitter, as Facebook is too distracting, but I’ll admit that Facebook has far less noise. Perhaps, just make it a point to check your Facebook lists once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before you head out for the day or before you go to bed.
To do this on Twitter, go to -> the page of your favorite band or music resource -> select the gear icon -> choose “Add or remove from lists” -> select your list or “Create a list.”
To do this on Facebook, scroll down on your home feed to “Interests” on the left side and select “More”-> select “Add interest” -> the “Create a list” -> start adding your favorite bands and resources.
Once your list is created, you can also go back and choose which types of updates are included within the list with the “Manage list” option.
3. Get real creepy with a media monitoring tool
I almost did not include this one because I work for a media monitoring tool and by no means want to be self-promotional. But there have been so many times where I’ve missed out on a show, and friends and colleagues have said, “Shannon, you work for a media monitoring tool, why aren’t you tracking your favorite artists?” Well, it’s because I always thought that was maybe a little too much, but who cares, really? With Mention, or another tool (there’s a lot out there), monitor the name of your favorite artists and your city’s name to be alerted when they’re coming in town. You can then set up alert notifications for instantly, every 5 minutes, hourly, or never. Learn how to set up your alerts.
Using Google Alerts is another option. The results aren’t quite as good, but the emails are simple. This is a better solution for the occasional show-goer.
4. Use your calendar
Don’t be like me and forget to put when tickets go on sale, or worse, when shows are and miss out big time. You probably already use your calendar for everything else — use it to keep your music habit in check too.
5. Pay attention to new album releases to avoid missing out on exclusive shows
Pay attention to when your favorite bands are coming out with a new album. Within a month or two of the release, they’re likely to play a bunch of “exclusive” or “secret” shows in big music hubs like NYC. Interpol recently did this at The Met, RadioFM Stadium, and the Bowery Ballroom, plus their actual planned shows at Terminal 5 in November. Alt-J did the same with the NPR show, and then again two days later at Rough Trade. Be the first to know about these shows by joining your favorite band’s fan club or by learning which of your local music tastemakers give the inside scoop. For NYC, the best seems to be BrooklynVegan and The Bowery Presents.
6. Join fan clubs
There are several reasons to join a fan club: The first is to show your support; and the second is to be in the know of shows and ticket sale dates before the general public. You’ll also receive sales on merch, learn about band news before it’s public, etc.
7. Sign up for BandsInTown and/or Songkick
BandsInTown has “saved my life” more than once by informing me of bands coming in town that I track. The app is integrated with streaming services such as Rdio, Spotify, and Pandora, as well as Facebook, and automatically tracks artists you follow, favorite, add to playlists, or listen to frequently (you can change this later in settings). This comes in extremely handy for catching shows, including those of lesser known artists. You can receive email notifications only, or download the mobile app for push notifications.
Songkick seems like a legit alternative as well. I just signed up, but haven’t used it yet.
8. Catch last minute shows and see what your friends are into with Jukely
With Jukely, you can discover shows based on your own music interests, and also those of your friends. The mobile app lets you see which shows your friends are going to, or share with your friends that a band they like is coming to town. You can then invite friends, make plans, and purchase tickets directly from the app. Honestly, I have not used this app as much as I should, and have to thank Anthony for the tip.
Jukely also just announced a $25 unlimited concert subscription, which is in beta. I’m not really sure what the details are, but should be interesting.
9. Make friends with a music blogger
Ok, so you shouldn’t become friends with someone just because they run a music blog, but if you just so happen to because they’re a cool person (looking at you, Jonathan), or if one of your friends becomes a music blogger, it can be beneficial for learning about your local artists or maybe even being a plus-one to shows. Pancakes and Whiskey, for example has hosted some excellent shows and parties with live music. I also finally got to see Boy & Bear in the basement of Baeble Music because my dear, dear friend Julia invited me. It doesn’t hurt to have friends who work in music PR either. 🙂
10. Follow your promoters and venues
This one is especially helpful for anyone who lives in a small town. Get to know who in your area are booking bands and follow them on social media or sign up for their email lists. When I lived in St. Petersburg, FL, I saw so many great bands in super small, divey venues as one of 20 people in the audience before they became big nationally. In New York and Brooklyn, I suggest following The Bowery Presents, Pancakes & Whiskey (duh), Cameo Gallery, Shea Stadium, Brooklyn Bowl, Baby’s All Right, and (le) Poisson Rouge, among others.
That’s it for now. What are your music-life balance hacks?
Article by Shannon Byrne