Published May 01, 2005In response to one-stop Canadian tours and a lack of label support for regional indie rock bands, Montreal promoters Meyer Billurcu and Brian Neuman founded Blue Skies Turn Black in 2000. What started as a small-time operation has evolved into a viable promotion company, allowing the duo to bring in bigger bands and hire an assistant. Although promotion has superseded their label, records by Les Angles Morts and Dirty Tricks, as well as new additions to the Blue Skies roster, are forthcoming.
You recently posted a guide to requesting shows on your website. Were a lot of bands going about it the wrong way?
Neuman: Yeah, we really need specific information: when they want to play, who they want to play with, a quick bio and an MP3, with the band name in the subject. If it's a vague email, we're not gonna spend the time doing research.
Billurcu: And one of the biggest mistakes a band can make is sending out a mass email. I've talked to other promoters and it's the first email that goes in the trash.
How would you advise aspiring promoters?
Billurcu: First, you have to really love music it's the only way you won't burn out. Next, ask yourself why you're getting into this? I'd like to think that most people start booking because the bands they like aren't coming their way; that's how we started. Each show will present its own set of challenges, and they won't all be sell-outs, so when you don't break even, just look at it as paying your dues. You've gotta be persistent to show people you're serious. Also, not every band and agent will be responsive to you, especially at first, but don't take it personally. After a while, they'll come to you.
What happened to your label?
Billurcu: We put more time into shows because the bands on the label weren't putting time into their bands, and a lot of them eventually broke up. We became much more cautious 'cause we released a lot of records that didn't go anywhere. We want to make sure that bands we sign or work with are gonna be willing to tour and put work into it outside the studio.