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Good People Good Music

My name is Brandon and I’m the President and owner of Key Signature Entertainment.  

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We’re coming up on 10 years in business and I thought it was time to finally write a blog of my own.  We’ve gone through a few changes over the years like any other company, but one thing has remained consistent.  Our love for the music and what we do is unwavering. For us it really is about the music and entertaining our customers.  We really do want you to choose and get the best bands/musicians both musically and professionally.  We are a staff of college degree trained musicians who book musicians!  I don’t think most people know that about us. I’ve struggled with the company’s identity because we do so much.  Some of our clients think we only produce outdoor festivals, music series, and concerts.  Others think we only book live music for private parties, weddings, and special events.  Some just use us 

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for family entertainment like face painters and balloon twisters. I see how all of this can be confusing and I’ve tried to reconcile it all, but finally decided not to.  Why should we?  We do it ALL!

We wear a lot of different hats here and we’re good at it.  Why streamline the company if we can provide great ideas, suggestions, and service effectively and efficiently? Now of course there are hiccups along the way and those of you who are in the event industry know that we become more like crisis managers than event planners especially while onsite. We try to predict the impossible before it happens in and out of the office. 

I was at an event a few weeks ago checking out one of my favorite bands.  I got to talking to one of the lead singers during the band break.  She was very appreciative that KSE has taken on booking the band and the efforts we’ve put in to getting the band gigs. I told her that we like to work with good people and we like good music. That is the most important thing to us. She suggested that I trademark that and it stuck with me. Good people and good music are exactly who we are and who we work with.  We just want to help you find good people and good music for your event. In our industry its usually the band with the best promo who gets the gig, but not necessarily the best band.

AG3_2508Most of our clients try to hear with their eyes and we do our best to navigate those waters, but sometimes you just have to trust us. We may suggest a band to you that has one video to view over another that has 20 and its because we truly believe that one band is musically and professionally better.  I know that might be hard to go with, but think of it this way……do you usually tell your mechanic what parts to use when they are fixing your car?  You probably just trust that it will work. Keep giving us the opportunity to provide Good People and Good Music for you and your events and give our suggestions a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

BeerCheers

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Here’s To New Beginnings

By Carlton A. Burt

If you’ve read our latest blog post, you’ll see that it was about change and how we deal with it in our office. It was not intended to be continued, but here we are; Part 2.

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For those of you who don’t know, Key Signature is going through another big change. This week marks my last week at Key Signature. I know, I know, it’s a shock to me too. I told you, I don’t like a lot of change and here I am bringing this big one upon myself.

The best thing about this change is that there is nothing wrong. My time here at Key Signature has grown me and put me on track for my purpose. I’ve been able to learn more about myself, my work ethic, who I want to be in this world, and my favorite thing, ‘adulting.’ Yes—I know and fully understand that adulting is not a real word but for now we should treat it as such. Adulting is no easy task. In fact, adulting is kind of hard, but life will give you situations and people to help you figure it out.

Have you ever had a person in your life that knows everything that will happen in a situation based on his or her own life experiences?17264748_10153748347882614_4329119154980938306_n For me, that is Brandon. Let me tell you, I can’t get away with ANYTHING when it comes to him! 9 times out of 10, when I was being careless or doing something incorrectly, he’d pull me into his office and say, “Hey, shut the door.” When Brandon said that, I knew we were about to have some kind of talk. He was so good at explaining exactly what I did and how I did it. I would just sit there dumbfounded. He would always follow up with saying, “I only know because I did that same exact thing.” Don’t let that make you think that I am as big of a troublemaker as Brandon… just kidding!

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Mikayla has also had a hand in shaping my professionalism. I would never admit that to her face, so this is the only way she’d find that out. As soon as she joined our team, she pushed me in areas I did not know needed a good push. It annoyed me a little at first but now I am so grateful. We coined the term ‘work siblings.’That’s because we push each other so much that it would annoy the other but we always have the others back.

I’ve been blessed to meet and get to know some of Charlotte’s finest. The impact that all of these people have made in my life will never be forgotten. Building relationships is a major key to Key Signature, no pun intended.24176782_10154333896557614_3031549920780970601_n I would say that this is one of my favorite parts about this job. Getting to know so many people in the industry has been a blessing. We all take care of each other and that is hard to come by. A goal given to me in my role at KSE was to make people love me. That was easy because all of these people have been easy to love. I guess that’s why they gave me the nickname Secret Weapon Teddy Bear. I will continue to wear that name with pride!

So what is next for this Teddy Bear? I am going to fully invest and focus on my calling in ministry. God’s plan is perfect and He is leading me to a new phase and chapter in my life. This is a huge faith move for me and I’m nervous, excited, and a little terrified…that face says it all. 14457500_10154570503497533_296478167855888783_nI have faith and know that through Him, all things are possible! I am still on social media for any of you who want to keep in contact after this transition. I will miss all of you greatly, but I am excited for what is coming to Charlotte and to Key Signature.

Here’s to new beginnings and heading into a new chapter. Secret Weapon Teddy Bear out! giphy-downsized

Internship Life

An internship is an opportunity for an individual to gain real-world experience in a field that is of interest to them. 9 times out of 10 these positions are filled with college students looking to build there resumes and hopefully use this as a tool to improve their chances of landing a full-time job. In todays society experience is everything, and a good majority of entry level positions are seeking potential employees with at least 1-2 years worth of experience.

620x300xinternship.jpg.pagespeed.ic.UiGbIIvA2vMy name is Cheyenne Dunbar, and I am Key Signature Entertainment’s 2016 summer intern. I embarked on this journey not only for self discovery; to see if this was the right fit for me, but also to learn about the event industry because knowledge is power. For me an internship is about diving head first into it. I didn’t want to just sit in an office all day like I do with my part-time job; I wanted to get out and get my hands dirty so to speak.

Last Saturday, June 25,  I worked my first event. The event was a concert from Freedom Parks – Freedom Summer Series that Mecklenburg Park and Recreation puts on every year. I honestly didn’t know what was in store for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day. I was able to see how an event operates from start to finish. We arrived several hours before the show start time to begin behind the scenes preparations. Each member of the team was doing his or her part for the success of the show. Between getting musicians checked in, getting their equipment unloaded and taken down to the stage, listening to each group do their soundcheck, making sure everyone was fed, and on top of that dealing with being accidentally double booked with another party for the same building.

13567179_10153158830332614_6432324484579181802_nIt was definitely a steady stream of tasks to handle, and we were able to work out a solution with the other group that was accidentally booked with us. Having experienced that situation I truly believe the key to a successful event is planning ahead and giving yourself enough time to do everything. That way you’re not rushing around trying to be everywhere at once, and if bumps arise you have enough time to properly deal with them. I worked the merchandise table once the performances kicked off from 6-9p.m, and was able to enjoy the concert like everyone else. I even met Matt Marshak, a popular contemporary jazz artist. His demeanor was inviting and he came across as a very relaxed and normal kind of guy. On the plus side I also got a signed copy of his latest album, so Im excited to listen to it this coming weekend.

Saturday was also more than just working an event, it was family oriented as well. I was easily welcomed by the other members and I felt a part of the team; instead of like an outsider which I truly appreciated.

This experience thus far has been an amazing one. Not only have I been soaking up everything I can about the event industry, but my skills and knowledge have also been put to the test. Working here has required that I think outside the box, but in a way that also works for me. I’m not here to do what someone did before me, I’m here to make my own unique contributions that’ll hopefully continue on and be useful to Key Signature once Im gone.

A Year In Review: 2015

What a year! We’ve had such a crazy year that we forgot to blog…almost. Please excuse us! 2015 has proven to be our biggest year yet. So much has happened and we are extremely proud of what Key Signature has been able to be a part of this year. We’ve worked with so many great vendors, artists, and friends in the industry. It would take all day to thank all of the talented people we’ve worked with this year, but we want to showcase a few of our favorite events from the year!

April 2015: ISES Greater Charlotte Chapter Crown Jewel Awards

Key Signature was honored to win not one, but two awards at this years Crown Jewel Awards! We went home with “Best Entertainment Production over $25K” for the 2014 Romare Fest and “Best Public Event Over 20K Attendees” for Matthews Alive 2014. Click here to see more photos!

 

May 2015: Romare Fest

The second annual Romare Fest was back in a big way this year, featuring regional and national blues artists. It was a great way for us to kick off our summer season. Our headliner was the Grammy nominated group The Spin Doctors, and these guys were awesome! Not only did they put on a great show, but they were a blast to hang out with. Click here for more photos!

 

June-August 2015: Freedom Summer Series

For the third year, Mecklenburg County Park and Rec has brought national level jazz acts to beautiful Freedom Park. We can’t thank everyone involved enough for helping make this beloved series such a huge success. This year we featured artists like Gregg Karukas, Kim Scott, Jessy J, Gino Castillo, Jackiem Joyner, Selina Albright, and David P. Stevens. A special thank you to Tammy Greene, The Jazz Diva, for being our emcee this summer and for bringing the crowds! Visit our Facebook page for more albums from this series.

 

Labor Day weekend 2015: Matthews Alive

Once again, Matthews Alive was a hit this year. With 4 days of live entertainment and fun for people of all ages, there was something for everyone. KSE ran three different stages simultaneously throughout the event, bringing in local, regional, and national acts. This years headliners featured Jim Quick & Coastline, Aeromyth: Tribute to Aerosmith, and country music legends Blackhawk! Click here for more photos!

 

Another highlight of the year was this October when we had Grammy award winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien at Romare Bearden’s Fall Festival. After the show, we got to hold one of his Grammy awards ourselves!

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What would you like to see from Key Signature in 2016? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook page!

We are so proud to have been chosen (and trusted!) by our clients to help make their events this year the best they could possibly be. Our goal for 2016 is to continue to grow in our relationships with our clients and other event professionals, and to keep to providing the very best in live entertainment! We wish you and your loved ones a happy and prosperous new year!

2014 to 2015: What we’ve learned

Well, we made it to 2015! It’s hard to believe after the year we just had that we’re already gearing up to do just as many (if not more) events than last year. Key Signature is looking forward to bringing you the best in entertainment yet again in 2015. At the beginning of each new year, many people make resolutions, as well as reflect on the year behind them.

Here are a few things we learned from some events in 2014:

-Give as much detail beforehand as possible to your team and artists (even though some things still won’t happen exactly the way you want them to!)

-Bring everything you think you might need, even if you end up needing none of it. Better to be prepared!

-Never take a good spot of shade for granted.

-Continue to appreciate the great team that works with you on big events. They’re life savers.

-When in doubt, refer back to your hard copies (of which you made extra because other team members always ask for them).

-Live Tweeting and posting to social media on site is a great way to let people see what is happening in real time, and is an incentive to get those who still haven’t made it out to the event. Nobody wants to miss out on fun!

-Connect. Share. Discuss. It’s all about who you know!

Here’s a photo of part of our team from the 2014 Matthews Alive Festival. We hope to see you out at many shows and events this year. It’s going to be a great one. We can feel it already!

Part of the Key Signature team that worked the 2014 Matthews Alive Festival

Key Signature team

Professional relationships & the events industry

Event (n): a thing that happens, especially one of importance; a planned public or social occasion.

Events are all about bringing people together. But what about the process of planning one of those? Are we coming together to do so? Do our relationships with other business professionals reflect in the planning and execution of our events? Are we bringing ourselves together in the best way possible to create an unforgettable event? Maybe not always.

Being in this industry, we know it to be true that it really is about who you know. And not only who you know, but who you have great professional relationships with. We are there as much as humanly possible for our clients, often going to shows or events that we may not even need to be at, just to make sure the client is happy and that everything is running smoothly. Building these relationships helps us communicate better, understand, and learn from every single event we put on.

This all starts before the event ever happens. In today’s world, smart phones and internet have taken over face-to-face conversations and phone calls. Meetings have turned into text messaging and emails. But if you really want to get to know someone and they way they ‘tick’, then you’ve got to build that face-to-face relationship. Not only does it build trust, but there are so many underlying tones and messages that you will never be able to see in that 3 page email. It’s also a good way to get an idea of what it might be like to work with someone before it ever even happens. True, most of our work takes place over emails and phone calls. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to get to know those who we’re trading conversation threads with.

Here’s some photos of us and some of our industry friends having a good time at last years EVIE Awards, presented by the Charlotte ISES Chapter! By the way, Key Signature won 3 awards: Best Event Production Under $25,000, Best Event Production over $25,000, & Best Team Effort!

2013 EVIE Awards

2013 EVIE Awards

Another great way to communicate with other event professionals is to just get out there, network, and get to know them. Don’t necessarily think ‘What can they do for me?’,  but rather  ‘What can I do for them?’ It goes a long way. These groups of people are easier to find than you think. We are members of ISES (International Special Events Society), NACE (National Association of Catering and Events), and Visit Charlotte. All of these groups connect business and event professionals; providing events to help them not only make their own business better, but get to know each other.

What do you think? What are your favorite ways to connect with a client or potential business partner? Let’s get social!

What has Key Signature done?

Whether you’ve known about us or are just learning about us, Key Signature has been a part of some really great events in Charlotte and beyond. You may have not even realized it. Back in 2012, we were part of the team that coordinated entertainment for the DNC Media Party that welcomed some 15,000 members of the media to the Queen City. Here’s a testimonial from Mary Tribble, who was head of the planning team for this specific event.

“I led the event department for the Democratic National Convention Host Committee in Charlotte. In my role, I was responsible for planning a welcome event for 15,000 members of the media. Key Signature was a key leader in our team to plan this event. They researched, contacted and booked entertainment for approximately 15 venues at the NC Music Factory. I cannot recommend Key Signature highly enough. They were efficient, effective, responsive and produced results on a short time frame. They were a pleasure to work with on every level and helped make the DNC Media Party a huge success. I recommend Key Signature Entertainment enthusiastically.”

– Mary Tribble, Former Deputy Executive Director of Hospitality and Events Charlotte in 2012 Convention Committee

So it turned out that 2012 was a pretty good year for us. Fast forward to 2013; we had plenty going on. In June we hosted Nnenna Freelon and Branford Marsalis at Freedom Park for a charity concert supporting Partners for Parks of Mecklenburg Country. A crowd of close to 2,000 people gathered to hear jazz in the park and support a great cause.

Photo: a shot of Nnenna Freelon on stage from across the crowd.

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At the end of summer, we had two of our biggest events of the year. Matthews Alive and the Grand Opening of the Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte both happened on Labor Day weekend. Matthews Alive was once again huge success, with Boston/Styxx tribute BOSTYXX bringing down the house in Matthews. Many residents say that it was the best concert they’ve seen at Matthews Alive ever! At Romare Bearden, we had two days of music leading up to country music star Jo Dee Messina headlining a free concert to the public that Saturday night.

Photos from top to bottom: 1) Shableek & Uncommon Jazz took the stage at the brand new Romare Bearden Park as part of the Friday night jazz lineup 2) A gorgeous view of the Charlotte skyline from Romare Bearden Park shortly after the rains left at the Grand Opening. 3) Country star Jo Dee Messina performed as the parks first big headliner.

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The year continued with plenty of events to keep us busy. 2014 is looking really good so far. So next time you’re out at an event, look around to see who might have played a part in it. There’s a very good chance that it might be us!

Unique Entertainment

More and more, we are seeing out of the box entertainment at events. We have seen recent events that had clients hiring aerialists, performers on stilts dressed as larger than life characters, belly dancers, and more. Creating a “Wow!” factor has now become an essential part of the biggest events.

Themed events are using these types of entertainment to their full advantage, dressing the performers in their theme and truly bringing a realistic atmosphere to their space. Event companies are getting seriously creative. We’ve seen some amazing stuff: contortionists, showgirls, living statues, girls with giant dresses that hand out desserts and drinks to guests, living red carpets, and so much more.

Imagination seems to be the only limit with entertainment like this. Want a champagne chandelier where and aerialist serves your guest glasses of champagne while hanging upside down? Or a group flash mob of dancers to surprise your guests? No problem.

Here is a photo of stilt walkers dressed in modern Harlequin costumes that we had at the DNC Media Party in 2012:

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Specialty performers are especially in demand during the holidays.  Carolers dressed in traditional Victorian era clothing are very popular. We had a holiday event back in December where we had a life size Toy Soldier who talked to children and handcrafted balloon animals for them. At the same event as an Elf who was Santa’s assistant and interacted with children as they were waiting to meet the big man himself.

The sky is no longer the limit when it comes to these types of novelty entertainment. Whatever you can dream up can pretty much be brought to life by todays professionals!

Artist Media and Web Presence

There are many things an artist or group can do to make themselves more marketable, but maybe the most important tools for “selling yourself” are your media and website. Photos, video, and even professional audio clips are all important for showcasing your abilities and making yourself the group that everyone has to have at their next event. Without good quality media, you may be selling yourself short. A bad video can take away from your true talents and image. This is the same even with a photo. The better quality your media, the more time and effort everyone can see that you put into making yourself look good. This not only reflects your own self-confidence, but how much you care about your group. And yes, these things cost money. But you don’t have to spend all you have to get a good quality video or photo made. In return, with better video/photos/audio, you are making yourself more marketable. And the more marketable you are, the more gigs you will get (and money you will make). Sounds like a good plan, right? If you don’t particularly know anyone who could help you get really good photos/video, reach out to friends you know who do have good media and get them to recommend someone to you.

We wanted to feature a few Key Signature musicians who are good representations of media we love to see from our artists.

For a solo musician, Matt Stratford has great photo/video. Matt is a favorite of many of our clients, and his photos and videos showcase his likeable personality.

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One of our bigger bands, Bull City Syndicate, has a fantastic band video. It is a mix of live performances and interviews with the musicians. It gives a genuine feel of what it would be like to work with the group, and how good their performance will be. A video like this lets the client get to know you, and love you, before they even meet you!

As far as your website; keep it simple (and user-friendly). Too many bright colors and crazy graphics can distract a visitor from your product. Let your music, videos, audio, and photos do the talking. Too many artists don’t take the time to make sure their website looks good, if they even have one. In today’s world, your website is the first impression people get of you when they’re searching for that go-to group. If you can control that, wouldn’t you want to give them the best first impression possible? For agencies, it can be frustrating looking for a certain type of act and finding a bad website or no website. Cluttered sites with low quality media make it hard to figure out if a group is actually good or not. As far as social media; if you choose to participate, be active. These sites are all about connecting. Take the time to give a genuine response to a comment on your post, or even a new follower on Twitter. A little can go a long way to create a new relationship with a prospective client or fan.

Hello!

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Welcome to Key Signature Entertainment’s brand new blog page! We thought we’d try our hand at blogging. So keep up with us here to read about what’s going on in our industry. We’ll be talking about everything music/entertainment and events! In the mean time, check out our website, Twitter page, and Facebook page!