Creative Loafing unites the Suncoast music scene: New and improved Soundboard section and event submission guidelines

Published August 11, 2010

Greetings Suncoast Venues and Music Artists,

This is Tim Sukits of Creative Loafing writing to let you all know about some exciting changes happening here at Creative Loafing Sarasota in regards to the Suncoast live music scene and our entertainment listings section of the paper, known as the “Soundboard.” Today marks my one year and nine month anniversary on the editorial crew here at the Loaf, and I have become very familiar with the operational ins and outs and seasonal ups and downs of the local music scene during my time as Staff Writer/Events Editor. I have now taken on the position of Arts & Entertainment Editor, which means my highest priority is to make Creative Loafing a catalyst for the advancement, cohesion, convenience and creativity of the Suncoast arts culture. As a music artist myself ( I am passionately dedicated to and personally invested in this area developing a vibrant live music scene.

In order to foster this growth, I have decided to make some changes to our current method of music coverage and our Soundboard section in the print paper as well as online. We will now be working with in an effort to more efficiently compile our live music listings. We are asking venues and artists to send their live music schedules as well as “GoTonight” will input your shows into their online database, which will be sent to me automatically at noon every Wednesday the week before the paper comes out. This means we need to have your events at least eight days before they occur. The Soundboard covers Thursdays through Wednesdays, so if your event takes place the week spanning Thurs., Aug. 19 to Wed., Aug. 25, we would need to have the info by noon on Wed., Aug. 11. You can send monthly calendars or weekly schedules, as long as they’re in the system when it’s sent to me.

The Soundboard section in the print paper will now be two full pages, or eight columns. Two of the columns will feature the best shows from CL Tampa’sMusic Week section, because readers are still interested in knowing about national acts playing in Tampa and St. Pete. One column will be a 300-word piece about a Suncoast band or artist performing that week or an interesting concert being held. I will try to highlight CD release parties and benefit shows, but it may also be an album review. A half column will feature our favorite concert flyer of the week. We are encouraging bands to send us PDF or JPEG versions of the promotional flyers for their shows, along with the names of the artists who create them, and we will run our favorite flyer in the Soundboard each week. This leaves four and a half columns dedicated to Suncoast music listings. We will still include a few small blurbs within the listings about other shows not featured in the band or flyer breakouts.

The “karaoke” and “ongoing shows” sections will now be online only. We will have links to those pages at the top of each Soundboard post on our blog every week, and we will continually update those pages as we are informed of changes. Each time there is a change in your ongoing schedule I will include it in the print paper that week so readers know a new artist has taken over that slot. Please look over this week’s Soundboard post and the links to the karaoke and ongoing shows pages and let me know about any corrections we need to make to your schedules:

The great thing about outsourcing the Soundboard compiling duties to GoTonight is that it frees up my time to write more in-depth pieces about local artists and shows. As I write these pieces each week and post them to the blog I will include Mp3s of your music, pictures, videos and links to all of your websites, social media fan pages and past CL stories we’ve written about you. Eventually, I would like to have posts on our blog for every music act on the Suncoast, and link to those posts from the Soundboard each time you play so online readers can listen to the bands when deciding what shows to go see. But in order to do that, I need to have something to write about. So I am asking all artists and venues to send me as much information as you can. Here are some of the things I’m looking for:

From Artists

— All your contact information: email addresses, phone numbers, websites, MySpace, Facebook and any other relevant pages

— Names of all your band members and the instruments they play

— The genre of music you play, which can be explained with as much loathing of pigeon holing bands into cookie cutter genres as you desire

— High-resolution versions of your most recent press photos (They must be at least 300 dpi at 5×7 in. to run in the print paper, so pictures pulled from the Internet won’t work. They have to be the original files, not shrunk for the web.)

— Mp3s of your recordings, which can be sent via email and albums can be mailed to or dropped by the Creative Loafing office at 1383 5th St., Sarasota, FL 34236

— Your current press kit and band biography (I realize half the bands’ MySpace bios are silly fictional tales about how all the members met at the end of a rainbow in the land of Oz, but that doesn’t help me write about you. I need real stories about who you are and how the band came together.)

— Major influences on your music, either broad genres or specific artists

— Your discography and any details about how your albums have evolved over time

— All the gigs you currently have booked and the venues you usually play at

— Former bands that your members have been a part of in the past

— Any comments or suggestions you have about the Suncoast music scene, local venues or the Creative Loafing Soundboard section

From Venues

— Contact information for who does your booking: email addresses, phone numbers, websites, MySpace, Facebook and any other relevant pages

— Your full entertainment schedule, including currently booked shows, ongoing weekly shows, karaoke nights, and what nights of the week you have open for booking

— The genres of music you enjoy booking and that your patrons enjoy hearing

— Names of the acts you book on a regular basis

— Any comments or suggestions you have about the Suncoast music scene, local venues or the Creative Loafing Soundboard section

The reason we had originally included karaoke and ongoing sections in the print paper was because we thought that was information readers wanted to know. But my understanding of who uses the Soundboard and the role it plays in the music scene has changed over time. I think the majority of readers who use the Soundboard are artists, venues and people who want to experience the best of both. This is your Soundboard. While some may be discouraged that their weekly karaoke night no longer appears in print, I am hopeful that they can view these changes as encouragement to try out different types of entertainment at their establishments. The Suncoast is known as an arts destination, and I believe the art of musical performance, in all its forms, has yet to be lifted to the high standard that this label entails. Tourists come here to see art, not people pretending to be artists.

As for ongoing shows, I would love to see venues switching out their lineups more often. I know personally from weekly gigs I’ve held and venues I’ve done booking for that crowds tire of seeing the same acts week after week. There is a vast abundance of talent in this town and the most vibrant music scenes are always the ones that keep it fresh. If we want to develop a reputation for being a live music destination like Austin and Asheville, we have to start acting like them. That’s why I also encourage venues to experiment with original music more. This area is blessed with a wide array of extremely creative and entertaining original acts, most of which come standard with a dedicated crowd draw. Many locals don’t realize it, but the Suncoast actually has a reputation within the Tampa and Orlando music scenes for housing some of the best original bands in Florida. Over the past year it’s been very disturbing to watch some of our best local original acts grow accustomed to booking out of town gigs because they can’t find work around here.

On a final note, I would like to point out the essential role a vibrant live music scene plays in attracting the types of creative, innovative, tech-savvy young professionals that this area is supposedly so interested in courting. Entertainment and nightlife are very big, if not the biggest, factors these kids look at when deciding where to set up shop. While doing the research for my story on the various Sarasota city and county noise ordinances, it became glaringly obvious that there is a clear divide between those who want this area to remain a quiet retirement home and those who want to see it thrive. Uniting the local music community is an essential first step in making sure these laws are reformed in order to provide an attractive environment for what is clearly the future of entrepreneurship.

The last line of my Free Will Astrology horoscope in this week’s Creative Loafing was thus: “Let this be a cautionary tale, Leo. I dearly hope that the creation you’re beginning to work on will endure for a long time and continue to provide meaning and pleasure far past the time it makes its initial splash. Build your baby to last.” While I’m not one who dictates life by the stars, this passage reminded me that our whole push for a better and brighter Suncoast music scene is only going to work if everyone participates. This letter is being sent to every venue and artist that CL and GoTonight have contact info for, but there are many we don’t. Below this letter are links to Word documents of all the contacts we have. If you see any artists or venues that aren’t on those lists, please forward this message to them so they can get involved. I said it before and I’ll say it again: This is your Soundboard. I promise to do my part, if you all promise to do yours. Let’s rock this town.

Musically, Creatively and Loafingly,

Tim Sukits

Suncoast Venues

Suncoast Bands

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