Pop Rocks

Steven Uhles is a guest entertainment columnist

Pop Rocks: Booking acts can be an art

Submit original music for annual AMPED contest

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There are two approaches taken when booking acts in any market.

Some try to appeal to the broadest possible market, always striving and struggling to find those acts that will cut across demographic lines. It’s a good approach, and, not surprisingly, the resulting bookings can attract large crowds.

Of course, booking acts that can attract a large and diverse crowd comes with costs, requiring investment of time, effort and, most significantly, money. Each sell-out arena tour, for instance, is the product of months, if not years, of planning, research and negotiation. They also, invariably, cost millions of dollars.

Even smaller-scale shows booked from a more generalist point of view come with risks. The booking guarantee will reflect a broader fan base and, should it not attract the audience anticipated, result in a more substantial sting for the promoter.

The alternative, for me, has always been a much more interesting approach.

There are, particularly in the music industry, many promoters who are in the business of niche bookings.

In the Augusta area, one of my favorites is Mike Garrett.

Here’s the thing. I have rarely gone to one of Garrett’s shows. His particular brand of hard rock/soft metal has never, as a music consumer, appealed to me. But the shows he books aren’t the reason I admire Garrett. What I admire is his loyalty to his brand and his fans.

He understands who he’s booking for, knows how many people will cross through the doors and, more important, is able to make his personal business model work for him, both as a fan and a businessman. He is also an incredibly decent human being – not always par for the course in the music business.

In writing, there is an old adage – write what you know. For promoters like Garrett, the same thing applies – in spirit at least – when it comes time to lay some ink on a contract.

Book what you know.

Roll the dice on those acts you understand.

It’s not necessarily something that can be learned. Instead, it comes from years of being a fan and developing a sense of intuition. Yes, it is a business. It’s also an art.

TURN UP THE AMPED. It’s that time again. School has wrapped – or will very soon – and people start looking toward the long days of summer and the opportunities for rest and relaxation they present.

Well, almost everyone.

Here at Pop Rocks World Headquarters, we’re gearing up for our busiest time of the year – AMPED season.

The submission period for our annual AMPED: The Augusta Chronicle Music Contest opens Thursday, May 23.

As in years past, we’re asking local musicians to submit original music, either on CD mailed to AMPED Music Contest, The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, 725 Broad St., Augusta, GA 30901 or via e-mail to applause@augustachronicle.com. The submission period ends at midnight July 5.

On July 15, the first round of voting will open, allowing readers to vote for favorites and pare down our list to six readers’ picks who will compete alongside six critics’ picks.

First-round voting will close July 29. Voting reopens Aug. 12 for the two-week race for the final six places – three chosen by popular vote and three critics’ picks.

Those six finalists will perform on the Global Stage at the Arts In the Heart of Augusta festival and at the official Sky City AMPED Preview Show.

Winners, selected by a panel of music experts and fans, will receive cash awards – $400 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

For complete rules, see augustachronicle.com/ampedrules.

Get ready, get set, get AMPED and get heard.


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