FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

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FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Lunkhead » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:13 pm

I thought we had some discussion of this somewhere but after a couple quick searches I can't seem to find it. It'd be helpful for future new hosts if there were a FAQ. If you've had experience hosting or helping host an SF!L, or if you've been an attendee and want to help list all the details that are involved, please chime in. I can try to consolidate FAQs and tips and HOWTOs into this first/top post.

General Song Fight! Live Info:
- Timing: Song Fight! Live generally happens during the summer, typically during July or August. (Whenever your neck of the woods has the worst possible summer weather.)
- Duration: Song Fight! Live generally happens over two days, generally Friday and Saturday, with one major performance block on each day
-- Previous combinations have been:
--- two full band/electric night time performances
--- a full band/electric night time performance, and a daytime acoustic/unplugged performance
--- etc.
- Nickname: Song Fight! Live events generally get a nickname/subtitle in the form of "something and something", generally referring to the city where the event occurs (e.g. Feds and Shreds for DC, Weird and Wired for Auston, Beer and Coffee for Seattle, Yanks and Banks for NYC, etc.)

How is a host selected?
- Folks volunteer on the boards to host SF!L in their cities
- Community members weigh in on their preferences for where SF!L should happen, and describe their availability
- Selection is a combination of consensus, performer availability, and most importantly a volunteer host actually committing to the most important detail, securing a venue

What are you responsible for as host of Song Fight! Live:
- Secure a venue
-- Indoor venues preferred
-- Ideally at least one of the performances should be able to accommodate "full band" sets
--- room on the stage for at least 4-5 people
--- ability to be loud during performance hours without neighbor/police issues (one time a "Song Fight Presents" show got shut down early by the cops because of noise complaints from neighbors)
-- Ideally we can get a 4-5 hour block of time for performances
--- past SF!L's have had 15-20+ sets over the course of two performance slots, with 20-30 minute sets, depending on total time available and total number of sets
-- Ideally we have a sound person
--- try to warn them that this is more like a festival, there will be lots of short sets with different lineups, if they can pay attention and remix for each act, we will buy them beer and food, etc.
- Pick the dates (generally two nights)
- Secure a rehearsal space option for visitors and locals
-- Most sets involve pick-up bands so rehearsals in town the day of and/or before SF!L can be extremely helpful
- Secure gear
-- Maybe you find a venue and/or rehearsal space options that provide all the gear we need
-- If not, maybe you provide it yourself from your personal gear
-- Maybe you rent equipment for the event
--- If you need help figuring out what to rent ask on the boards for guidance
-- Maybe you crowd fund the purchase/rental of gear for the event
- Food recommendations, preferably within walking distance of the venue (if food is not available AT the venue, which can be really handy if it's possible)
- Lodging recommendations
- Activities for folks while they're in town
-- Organize an activity
-- Or suggest existing activities that folks may want to check out, individually or collectively
- Financing
-- There may be costs for the event (paying for a venue if necessary, renting equipment if necessary, renting rehearsal space if available.)
-- You may be able to ask/beg the community for some/all of that financing
-- Consider though how much money you're saving by having SF!L in your town, since you do not have to buy plane tickets, rent a car, get a hotel, etc.
-- Hosting the event is usually cheaper than attending

Equipment:
- PA
-- amplifier, mixer, speakers (the amp and mixer may be one unit, or, the speakers may be "powered" meaning they have amplifiers built in)
-- power and speaker cables to connect amp/mixer/speakers to AC and each other
-- mic+clip+stand+cable, at least two sets, preferably three, preferably boom stands too
- Instruments and backline:
-- drum kit (kick, snare, hi-hat minimum, preferably also 2-3 toms, ride and crash cymbals)
-- electric 6-string guitars tuned to standard tuning, preferably two
-- at least a 1x12 combo guitar amp with cables and clean and distorted channels, per electric guitar
-- fretted electric 4-string bass tuned to standard tuning
-- at least combo bass amp (1x15 or 2x10 preferred) with cables
-- 1 acoustic 6-string guitar tuned to standard tuning with a pickup and a cable

Nice To Have:
- Event specific t-shirts featuring the nickname and roster and some cool art
- Promotional posters featuring the nickname and roster
- Food available at the venue
- 2-3 music stands (most folks perform using charts and printed lyrics)

General Tips:
Consider a Song Fight! Live event to be more of a private party with a band than an actual "concert". Non-performers should be welcome, but you should not spend a lot of time and money putting up posters or advertising unless you enjoy doing so. Remember, you are hosting a two-day event that will consist of probably 8 solid hours of noodling amateur musicians. We want to hear each other, the public will not get so much enjoyment out of it. However, you should leave notices online in places where people may know of Song Fight. We have had people show up to events who have heard of some Song Fighters. And you want to have as good a chance as possible of having older fighters show up who haven't been around much recently.

We may not bring in much at the door for a venue but we more than make up for it in drink purchases, and food purchases too if food is available at the venue. We can additionally resort to crowd-funding if we need to pay for the venue.

Social media: Feel free to create events on social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Google+, etc.) but they should not be considered the primary/canonical online presence for the event. That should be here on the boards, with the core details available on the songfight.org homepage as well.

See also:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_Fight ... ht.21_Live

If you have other local fighters in your area consider enlisting them to help with the hosting duties if possible. Also, you may have to put some effort in to getting the venues to respect your booking with them. Keep in touch and make sure they still have your booking on their calendar periodically before the show. A couple times venues have flaked on us and we've had to scramble last minute for other options.

The Live Fight
The live fight traditionally happens on the end of the second night. Everybody who has a song signs up on a signup sheet. Either the signup order is the performance order or the MC randomizes the order of the performers. (If Spud is present, he is traditionally the MC, otherwise, if JB is there, he may want the job, otherwise, it usually falls to the host.) The MC then calls the performers up to the stage to perform their songs. When everybody has performed their songs, the MC then calls up one representative from each act that performed to stand on stage all together. The MC then asks for the audience to vote with their applause, going through each representative one at a time. If it's not clear who the winner is, the MC will kick some folks off stage and leave the leading contestants, and repeat the process until there is a clear winner. The MC then announces the winner and everybody goes crazy and then the serious drunkenness starts. ;)

The local host(s) of the event get to pick the title, which usually has some kind of local bent to it. The title usually goes up on songfight.org anywhere from a few days to a week before the event. Also, there is usually an optional challenge of "live performance" for the fight. If somebody is recording the show, that person can opt to make the live fight recordings available for folks who want them, so they can be used to enter the online fight.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby ken » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:17 pm

Songfight Live most often happens during the summer, typically during July or August. (Whenever your neck of the woods has the worst possible summer weather.)
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Niveous » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:19 pm

From a few years back...

erik wrote:I think that the person or persons who want to play host should be able say:

1. What city it will be in
2. What venue it will be in
3. On which day or days it will be held
4. Where and when people can practice
5. Where the instruments/recording gear will come from
6. Suggestions for where people can stay
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby jb » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:25 pm

- Equipment: Secure a backline and PA system for the performance. If you don't have them yourself, scrounge or rent or hunt for volunteers. Your venue might have them.
- Rehearsal: Secure a rehearsal space for the event, usually the day before the first performance night, and the day of for each performance night
- Performance Timing: Traditionally there are two nights of performances, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Variations are fine-- we've had an acoustic day and electric day for example

TIP: Consider a Song Fight Live! event to be more of a private party with a band than an actual "concert". Non-performers should be welcome, but you should not waste a lot of time and money putting up posters or advertising. Remember, you are hosting a two-day event that will consist of probably 8 solid hours of noodling amateur musicians. We want to hear each other, the public will not get so much enjoyment out of it. However, you should leave notices online in places where people may know of Song Fight. We have had people show up to events who have heard of some Song Fighters. And you want to have as good a chance as possible of having older songfighters show up who haven't been around much recently.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Rabid Garfunkel » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:34 pm

Good info, thx!
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby ken » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:38 pm

T-shirts!

Title must be in the form of "something & something." Should be witty, base, and not too terribly clever describing the location of the event and something about how songfighter are drunken jerks.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby anti-m » Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:53 pm

Thanks, guys!

One thing that would be helpful for me is a sense of how many of us usually materialize for these events, which is to say, how big should the venue be?
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Lunkhead » Thu Apr 02, 2015 5:14 pm

You can probably expect demand for 15-20 sets total for the whole event. Total number of attendees, performer-wise, will probably be 25-30. Number of non-performer attendees will be probably 5-10, unless the locals have a bigger draw. (It seemed like a fair number of local non-performers materialized to see WreckdoM in Austin, for example.) It is nice if we can find a place with foot traffic for random drop-ins, or a place with regular patrons or a regular draw, although, we did have an issue in Seattle where one venue had a very strong "neighborhood bar" vibe, and we wound up having a heckler who was pissed that we were playing our "shitty" music in "his" bar and it nearly came to blows. On the plus side, while we may not bring a huge crowd of non-performers, the performers are generally very friendly to the venues and buy lots of food and/or drinks or whatever they can.

Oh, that's another thing. It's been really nice when we've had venues that also offer food. It's nice if people don't have to leave the show and miss other folks' sets to get dinner.

Another strategy when trying to find a venue is to describe it as more of a music festival of sorts, since it does involve a lot of different acts.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby anti-m » Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:53 pm

Cool, those ballpark numbers help immensely!
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby ken » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:17 am

There may be costs associated with hosting SFL. You should think about all you will save by not having to purchase plane tickets, accommodations, and other travel expenses and redirect these resources accordingly. If necessary, other songfighters are usually happy to pitch in when needed.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Niveous » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:30 pm

I've thrown a couple of Songfight shows with varying degrees of success, so I figured I'd tell you about my experiences. Could help, couldn't hurt.

Show #1: Goodbye Blue Monday.
http://roymond.smugmug.com/Music/Songfight-Brooklyn/
It was a venue suggested to me by Luke Henley. Music venue which hosts bands nightly. Not the best NYC neighborhood at the time, but this was a venue that was down for anything. They let us do a two night stint on a weekend. They allowed us to use their equipment including for recording. This was a very low hassle situation. A lot of random non-songfighters showed up which was fun especially during the live fight. A pretty positive experience. It's good when you have a venue that is on board for having a bunch of random bands that they never heard of come play.

Show #2: Prospect Park Music Atrium
https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnorama ... 479130724/
So, the idea was to do an outdoor show in Prospect Park. Figured that the atrium was spacious enough to accomodate a bunch of Songfighters and could garner a bit of foot traffic. Big lesson learned here was that you should always check out the venue beforehand. I had only checked it out in pictures but had never went there. Foot traffic was minimal because it was off the beaten path. There was no electricity and for a place called the music atrium- it didn't have the greatest sound. It was nice to get together and chill with the other bands but it was far far far from optimal.

Show #3: Sidewalk Cafe
https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnorama ... 479130724/
Food. Drink. A sound guy who happened to be a Songfighter. Sidewalk is a venue that has nightly music and we had an in, thanks to Ben Kreiger. I think this was pretty much everything you could ask for in a venue. There was a decent crowd of non-songfighters mixed in there. Lights. Backline. Recording. No hassles with the management. Good times. Great tunes.

Show #4: The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
https://www.bozos.com//songfight/sflive-2011/pictures/
There were a few huge lessons to be learned here. If the venue is outdoors, prepare for weather issues. It was damn cold that day. Make sure that you and the venue owner are on the same page. He thought we were bringing our own sound equipment. I thought we were using the venues. In the end, he begrudgingly let us use the venue’s equipment despite the fact they had more sound gear than Electric Ladyland just sitting in a garage. Also give enough time for set-up and for disasters. Lastly, consider size. That place was HUGE. But the place had lots of different beers and brats, so it wasn’t all bad.

Show #5: The Firehouse Space
https://www.bozos.com//songfight/sflive-2011/pictures/
I rented the space. It was a converted old firehouse. The lady who lived there gave us the run of the joint. This was Songfight FUBU. Good sound. Pool table. Lots of alcohol flowing. Songfighters just hanging out all over the house. Not a bad experience at all.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby jb » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:21 pm

ken wrote:There may be costs associated with hosting SFL. You should think about all you will save by not having to purchase plane tickets, accommodations, and other travel expenses and redirect these resources accordingly. If necessary, other songfighters are usually happy to pitch in when needed.


Ken's note is very important when considering whether to use your own money to make SFL be successful. :) You can rent a pretty nice venue for the cost of a plane ticket and three nights in a hotel...

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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby jb » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:27 pm

Niveous wrote:I've thrown a couple of Songfight shows with varying degrees of success, so I figured I'd tell you about my experiences. Could help, couldn't hurt.
Show #2: Prospect Park Music Atrium

Yeah, would've been better as a plain old picnic or something. We were kind of standing there in the cold playing acoustic guitars at each other. Bonus though is I am pretty sure I saw this atrium in an episode of Broad City when they were having a "dog wedding". Also, Brick Pig was able to come to this event, which was great!

Show #3: Sidewalk Cafe

This was fantastic. I had so much fun.

Show #4: The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

This was not so much fun. It was cold and rainy and nobody could hear me. But MCFront came out and dragged the Wheatus dude along so I got to meet him, so that was pretty cool.

Show #5: The Firehouse Space

I was jealous that I didn't get to play in this space. It was really nice, and had a nice piano, and you could really hear the music. That was kind of my goal in setting up the DC fight. I wanted the music to really be the focus and for it to sound good. I *think* we achieved that.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby anti-m » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:59 pm

Thanks, Niv, that's all useful history! I am sorely tempted to try to set something up outside, but it's certainly a terrible idea here. (It gets COOOOLD at night!)
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby fluffy » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:11 pm

Niveous wrote:Show #4: The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
https://www.bozos.com//songfight/sflive-2011/pictures/
There were a few huge lessons to be learned here. If the venue is outdoors, prepare for weather issues. It was damn cold that day. Make sure that you and the venue owner are on the same page. He thought we were bringing our own sound equipment. I thought we were using the venues. In the end, he begrudgingly let us use the venue’s equipment despite the fact they had more sound gear than Electric Ladyland just sitting in a garage. Also give enough time for set-up and for disasters. Lastly, consider size. That place was HUGE. But the place had lots of different beers and brats, so it wasn’t all bad.

There was also the drum kit debacle, where the first hour of the show was spent with a bunch of us trying to assemble a drum kit right out of the box.

Also they let us use their gear but only a tiny portion of it because they had no idea how to turn the actual PA on, so we ran the whole show through the monitors, so nobody could hear us without standing right in front of us in the rain.

As far as my one experience trying to help run a show (San Francisco 2010), what I learned is that it's very easy to have too many cooks in the kitchen (as far as trying to find/book spaces goes) and that venues are flaky as hell. If you get on a venue's calendar, make sure you actually are ON that calendar. And make sure that they understand that you are going to be performing music, rather than (as one venue did) giving us one half of the space while another band had the other half before they just canceled us entirely without even letting us know. (That venue went out of business soon after. Good riddance.)
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby jack » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:53 pm

Accept help from people that want to help. No way I could have organized the Santa Cruz show alone.

And like JB said, I've spent way more on traveling to SFL than to host it. I probably spent 2 or 3 times what I spent renting the Cayuga Vault for 2 nights than I did going to Tampa (but I still had a blast in Tampa!)

And if Spud wants to play MC, by all means let him!
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby HeuristicsInc » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:13 am

Niveous wrote:Show #1: Goodbye Blue Monday.
http://roymond.smugmug.com/Music/Songfight-Brooklyn/
It was a venue suggested to me by Luke Henley. Music venue which hosts bands nightly. Not the best NYC neighborhood at the time, but this was a venue that was down for anything. They let us do a two night stint on a weekend. They allowed us to use their equipment including for recording. This was a very low hassle situation. A lot of random non-songfighters showed up which was fun especially during the live fight. A pretty positive experience. It's good when you have a venue that is on board for having a bunch of random bands that they never heard of come play.


One of the best things I remember about this place was that they let us record right off of their equipment, I remember doing a set right onto my laptop and the sound was pristine. Much different from the sound at Atlanta, which is pretty unlistenable... sadly. The only recorded evidence of Starfinger and I playing live.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Spud » Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:06 pm

jack wrote:And if Spud wants to play MC, by all means let him!
Thanks for the recommendation, Jack. One of the best times of my life. And PORTLAND! Of course I'll be there!
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby roymond » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:42 pm

jb wrote:
Show #4: The Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

This was not so much fun. It was cold and rainy and nobody could hear me. But MCFront came out and dragged the Wheatus dude along so I got to meet him, so that was pretty cool.

And Front's chocolate chip cookies...
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby anti-m » Fri May 01, 2015 9:39 am

Can someone explain how the Live Fight goes down?
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby Lunkhead » Fri May 01, 2015 9:53 am

Yeah, it happens on the end of the second night. Everybody who has a song signs up on a signup sheet. I think the MC usually randomizes the order. The MC then calls people up to perform their songs. When everybody has performed their songs, the MC then calls up one representative from each act that performed to stand "on stage" (or whatever). The MC then asks for the audience to vote with their applause, going through each representative one at a time. If it's not clear who the winner is, the MC will kick some folks off stage and leave the leading contestants, and repeat the process until there is a clear winner. The MC then announces the winner and everybody goes crazy and then the serious drunkenness starts. ;)

EDIT: Also, if I am not mistaken I think the local host(s) of the event get to pick the title, but I could be wrong about that. The title usually goes up on songfight.org anywhere from a few days to a week before the event. Also, there is usually an optional challenge of "live performance" for the fight. If somebody is recording the show, that person can opt to make the live fight recordings available for folks who want them, so they can be used to enter the online fight.
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Re: FAQ Hosting a Song Fight! Live

Postby anti-m » Fri May 01, 2015 12:33 pm

Lunkhead wrote:An excellent summary

Thanks! That's more or less how I thought it would go down, although the title picking is a surprise! If that is in fact the case, Rabid G and I will have to confer.

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