Note from the author:
Below is a written version of the podcast, which you can find on SoundCloud, iTunes, or wherever you get podcasts. The actual recording contains comments from Stephen. Although the content is mainly the same, my reactions to Stephen's voice are not.
Four Questions - Episode 1
Hi everyone welcome to the first episode of Four Questions - a new series on our Rock House Podcast. It’s going to be a weekly podcast – which I hope to stick to this time – about Stephen’s new band - Learson Peak. Each week, I will share with you answers to 4 questions:
- What went well for the band last week?
- What didn’t go so well for the band last week?
- What is the most interesting thing I learned?
- What am I excited about next week?
To help me with the podcast, Stephen will be asking me these four questions each week and reacting to my answers. He might also put some fun music in the background. We’ll see how it goes. No matter what, the goal is to keep each episode short, fun, and not all-time-consuming like the other ones we made.
Why am I doing this? Well first - it’s a great way for me to document my thoughts and ideas in a regimented way. I don’t know if other people in the world struggle like me, but I just have so many ideas all the time I can’t control my brain. It feels like it’s going to explode. I need a way to get my ideas out into the world – and this is how I want to do it.
Also I think this podcast will help other aspiring artists learn about the music and promotion industry. If any of this stuff helps you, let me know by leaving a review, posting on social media, or sending us an email.
I figure that if no one listens to this podcast, at least we’ll have something to keep for ourselves when we’re 80 years old - to say – “Look – we did this and that. We tried it”. If people listen to the podcast and like it – then awesome! It’s a bonus.
Since this is the very first episode, I thought I would give you some background about our lives so you have better context.
My name is Michelle Learson and my husband is Stephen Learson. We were both born in 1983 and grew up in a small town just outside of Philadelphia called West Chester, where we went to middle school and high school together. After dating for a year in middle school we broke up in High School (because Stephen was not nerdy enough for me and I wasn’t cool enough for him)
After college, 10 years later, we met for drink when I was on a business trip to Boston and we both realized we were supposed to be together all along. We clicked instantly. I moved in, we adopted our puppy Bartok, we built a house together and got married.
Now we’re trying to build this new music project together that Stephen’s called Learson Peak. He’s put out a new record and has been playing some shows locally. We’re trying to grow and get people to shows. I’m doing all the marketing, merchandise, and social media. Stephen’s doing booking, rehearsing, recruiting, driving. And everything else! It’s hard and frustrating. But we’re up for the challenge.
So anyway – let’s get going with this week’s questions, shall we?
#1. What went well last week?
Well - last week we had an excellent early-morning meeting with Ranger Tim - to confirm the details of the City of Cambridge Fresh Pond Day Festival. Ranger Tim is definitely Not your average talent buyer. He is a park ranger who happens to be in charge of music for Fresh Pond Day. There are lots of good things about this gig - the pay is good; we are the only rock band on the bill (the others are a Folk band and a Marching band), and if it doesn’t rain - there will be 1,000-2,000 people there. The only problem is that we’re not allowed to sell any merchandise or collect tips for the band during the show, since it’s a non-profit event - so I will have to figure something out.
The other thing that went super well this week was a gig that Stephen’s old friend, Sean Cronin, hooked up at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel (very posh). It was an impromptu band with Sean on guitar, Jules on drums and Stephen on keys. Sean called it - Mossy Peak (see photo below). The strangers at the bar became instant super-fans when they electro-jammed out to Africa and California Love. We got lots of tips and booze. Hoping that they will do that gig again!
#2. What didn’t go so well last week?
Last weds, Learson Peak played a show in the Foundation Room (the VIP lounge for the House of Blues Boston) that had less people attend than we wanted.
The same night, Boston’s Asian clubbing crowd was out in full-force to see an electronic DJ show called Marshmello – at the House of Blues main stage. The Marshmello performance is basically one guy that wears all white and a huge marshmallow which changes colors – on his head - and dances around a stage playing dub-step + pop tunes while laser beams and CO2 cannons are shot into the audience. Quite the experience but very different to Learson Peak.
So I wrongly thought that Marshmello fans would come into the Foundation Room – which is free and right next door - but very few did. It’s been difficult to fill the Foundation Room with just our friends and hard core fans. The room has a capacity of over 500, and we need to somehow find new people every week to come see the band.
Next week I’m going to try some different techniques with the Joe Perry crowd to try and get our numbers up. We've designed some new flyers to encourage patrons standing in line at the House of Blues. Cross my fingers.
#3. What is the most interesting thing I learned this week?
This week I started reading the book: How to Make It in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand. It’s a pretty good book – although lecturey at times. Ari talks about how to run a band like it’s a full-time start-up.
The most interesting thing I learned so far is that there is an app called Followers+ for Instragram which can manage the data for all your Instragram accounts, followers, and post analytics. It’s super cheap and pretty useful. I’ve managed to clean up all 4 Instagram accounts I manage in 1 day. Check it out.
#4. What am I most excited for about the band this week?
This week is Indobox week. Three of the four members of Learson Peak are in The Indobox, so there will be no Learson Peak show this Wednesday (which is good because I need more time to work out our promotion strategies for the Foundation Room).
The Indobox is performing Friday the 13th of April at Brighton Music Hall (tickets) , which is 10 minutes walking distance from our house. I’m really looking forward to hearing all my favorite Indobox songs this whole week, since we’re also having 3 days of rehearsals. I guess I will be doing a lot of cooking for the boys.
Separate to band news, I will be flying again Saturday morning at 7am to Baltimore for 3 days to attend a Data Science Research Conference. Looking forward to that and giving a speech to a Directors’ circle about MIT. If not for the upcoming conference and flight, I would totally party all night with the Indobox family.
So that’s it for this week’s four questions! Listen next week on Tuesday (since I’ll be in Baltimore until then).