From dream to stage — how to book that show

Kelsey Peterson
Oct 24, 2018 · 5 min read
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Mama Duke, two-time award-winning rapper and performer, at the Day Dreamer “Build Your Portfolio, Vol. 1: Performing Arts” event at Cheer Up Charlies on 7/11/2018. Photo captured by Brittany No Fomo.

It’s 2008. I’m sitting in my dorm room compiling exactly 11 packets to send to record labels and venues both in and out of town. As a band manager, days have been sucked up staring at iMovie on my Macbook arranging media onto DVDs. I’m pretty sure the librarian and I are besties by now (hi, Sharon!). I begin scribbling addresses and smacking the postal glue onto the crisp, manilla envelopes.

As I arrive at the post office, with shaking hands, I drop each folder one-by-one in the rusty blue container. $13 (plus materials) later, I think “well, you have to spend money to make money, right? Here goes a dream of the regional, Illinois tour.”

You have a dream — now what?
Early in 2018, I began working on an app with a friend, an extremely talented producer and songwriter, Mary Walker. She had come up with this incredible idea to help creatives build their network all in a local space, and through my own music industry experience, I immediately understood the pain. How do you find a local collaborator when you’re on a budget or relocating to a new city? Even further, how do you put together a portfolio in a convenient, centralized place?

Day Dreamer, born out of Austin, TX and available for iOS & Android, allows a creative individual to use media from Soundcloud, YouTube, and the device’s gallery. Once the project is added alongside a description and tag, it shows within the local feed for others to interact. Since it’s localized, if you’re interested in collaborating, it’s possible to meet for coffee that very same day.

For instance, let’s say you are a musician who recently relocated to a new city and you are looking to film your first music video. Even further, maybe you’re looking to start a band and need to find other musicians with similar interests. Or, since cross-medium collaboration is crucial to artistic innovations, maybe your a painter who uses fabric and need to find a fashion designer who can make your art into clothes. The possibilities are endless.

Why hasn’t the industry caught up?
Back in 2008, 90-something percent of industry professionals instructed (er, forced) us to follow the physical media kit approach when managing musicians or promoting ourselves. We had Myspace and YouTube at our fingertips, allowing us to pave our own path as indie performing artists. Youthful, underutilized talent glanced over, all because we were more focused on creating digital connections with a new fan-ship via social media. The industry wasn’t ready for this new path — they had no idea it would continue at such a fast rate.

Now, with Soundcloud, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (among dozens of others), the performing art industries are trying to discover the next big artist. They spend a collective of millions of dollars each year scouting talent, both digitally and in-person. They weed through their personal networks, tapping into each friend of a friend of a friend, asking the age-old question: “who should we book next?”

While it does work, it’s also repetitive.

In Austin, the “Live Music Capital” of the world, there’s a different performing experience in every venue every night of the week. There are over 250 music venues, according to Visit Austin, with many featuring new, up-and-coming artists. But the question still stands, how do they (i.e. industry reps, booking agents, and venues) find you?

As of right now, you have to show up. Simply sending an email does not suffice — if you’re in the right place and the right time, maybe. Building your creative network is still one the best ways to book that gig; but even then, venues and booking agents tend to hire performers that draw a crowd and have quality content in their portfolio.

In a city where there’s a magnitude of talent on every corner, opportunities are sometimes scarce.

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Christopher Michael, poet, writer, and community mentor, performing at Day Dreamer’s “Build Your Portfolio, Vol. 1: Performing Arts” event on 7/11/2018 at Cheer Up Charlies. Photo captured by Joseph Choe.

Volume One: The Performing Arts.
We invited musicians, poets, comedians, dancers, DJs, and actors/actresses to perform on both stages of Cheer Up Charlies on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018. For 5 hours, we reserved thirty 10-minute slots for those that signed up in advance and back-lined the outdoor stage, reserved for musicians.

Needless to say, we were nervous. This would be our first event hosted exclusively by Day Dreamer. What if no one shows up? What if this doesn’t fit a big enough need as we thought?

Then the magic happened.

Over 30 performers signed up in advance. Night-of, performers filtered through every 10–15 minutes — their guitar cases or instruments in hand, to showcase what they can do on stage. We brought the tools, they bring the talent — hit record. Watch the footage here.

Some would call it a concert. Others may call it a showcase. Maybe it was even a workshop. But overall, it was a chance for artists to compile content for their portfolio and to witness dreams coming alive on stage.

Throughout the night, we realized how important it is for artists across many mediums to see each other performing their respective craft. This process creates empathy, deep connection, and has further promoted how crucial collaboration is for our artistic success.

Fairy Swirls, a hula-hoop dancer out of Austin, TX. Video captured by Cameron Smith and Pixie Pelland at the Day Dreamer “Build Your Portfolio, Vol. 1: Performing Arts” on 7/11/2018. Music: “Toxic (Cestladore remix)” by Melanie Martinez.

It’s important to share our capabilities with the world.
Many artists before us felt they never could, and thus never did. Now we’re trying to change the narrative. Day Dreamer is nothing without the local community that surrounds us and the content they create so we make it a mission to amplify what an artist is capable of creating.

Day Dreamer is your biggest fan — we show up early and stick around to clean up at the end. Let’s get started — join the community today.

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Day Dreamer app, available for both iOS & Android, helping local creatives connect and collaborate across 9 artistic mediums.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this story and how can we be involved to help bring your dreams into reality. Reach out to us at hello@daydreamerapp.com or comment below!

Day Dreamer App

Day Dreamer is an application that helps creatives connect…

Kelsey Peterson

Written by

Founder, singer-songwriter, thriving cat mom. Culture + HR at Square Root. Lover of scones with the perfect cup of tea.

Day Dreamer App

Day Dreamer is an application that helps creatives connect & get hired in their local area. Across a variety of artistic mediums, our communities thrive when we create together.

Kelsey Peterson

Written by

Founder, singer-songwriter, thriving cat mom. Culture + HR at Square Root. Lover of scones with the perfect cup of tea.

Day Dreamer App

Day Dreamer is an application that helps creatives connect & get hired in their local area. Across a variety of artistic mediums, our communities thrive when we create together.

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