Cologne Cats A-Croonin'
Crooning alley cats are roaming the streets, hopping on trains to spread the word about blues music throughout Germany and Switzerland
Commuters in Germany's Ruhr Basin (a huge metropolitan area in the country's northwest), know all too well about changing trains at one of the biggest and busiest junctions - Cologne Central Station. Those visiting praise the Gothic beauty of world-famous Cologne Cathedral. But there is more to Cologne than train tracks, medieval sandstone, Kölsch beer and huge production plants. Crooning alley cats are roaming the streets, hopping on trains to spread the word about blues music throughout Germany and Switzerland. Listen to bass player Till Brandt's pussycat purr...
We've noticed that Get The Cat plays more than 40 gigs a year in Germany and Switzerland. Also, your website tells us that "Get The Cat" is your main project/revenue source. Why has it not been possible to watch you perform live in Austria and other countries outside Germany and Switzerland thus far?
Till Brandt: Let's put it this way: Get the Cat is the project we live off of in an "artistic" way, not from a business point of view; however, we're on the right track there. We are four professional musicians who, like many of our colleagues, make a living by teaching music and playing "muzac", but also by performing live with Get the Cat. There's been a steady increase in the frequency of performances! Get the Cat's music is our music: original songs, original arrangements, 100% homemade. Of course we're aiming at touring throughout Europe. It makes sense to start with The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in terms of vicinity; however, we're also planning to get on the bill of summer festivals, e.g., in Italy and France.
Who handles your booking?
Till Brandt: We do. "Get the Cat" is a band, but also a booking agent, a tour manager, a publicist, a PR business, a music production company...in other wordsd -- all things connected to producing and marketing music.
Are there any plans to increase touring throughout Europe and also begin touring in North America and Asia?
Till Brandt: We would love to. As we speak, we're still going through a phase of firmly establishing the act on the German-speaking market. Currently, planning tours in other continents is way above us in terms of time allotted, but performing in the US or Asia is one of our future goals.
Specific to the genre of blues music: You refer to small and medium-sized clubs and promoters as the backbone of your business model. What are the current challenges you are facing there?
Till Brandt: Striking a chord with the crowd is not that easy for a lesser-known band. Unfortunately, venues are losing their "regulars" who are open to new musical experiences. Blues is not on the German radio charts radar, hence there is less exposure and less promotion for this style of music. Folks who are not that open to new things often prefer big venues over small clubs.
What is the secret of your appeal to promoters?
Till Brandt: Our music. It's diverse, with an authentic stage presence. Also, we are easy-going folks without any airs and pretenses. Maybe more of this would sometimes help to feed the "I-am-a-star" image. (smile) we're also easy to handle when it comes to technical issues, have our own equipment for providing sound for up to 150 people and reliably get the job done.
What do you consider the best "channel" for CD and DVD sales? Is it out-of-the-trunk sales at gigs or also distribution (traditional mail order/mail order via the Internet)? In comparison, do you sell a lot of downloads/paid streams or is your music-buying demographic rather conservative?
Till Brandt: Up to this point, we have barely sold any CDs outside the live performance realm. I don't have any numbers on copies of our current CD sold via distribution and downloading, but I'm very optimistic. Sales via our own website have improved due to our new CD and intensified promotion.
Looking at the relatively clear-cut genre limits - do you think there are more or less opportunities for entering endorsement and sponsoring agreements in terms of equipment, etc.? What's your situation in terms of sponsorship by producers of products (drinks, clothes, accessories, vehicles etc.) and the media?
Till Brandt: Based on Get the Cat's DIY approach (see above) and the fact that we're extremely busy, endorsement is an area we haven't really looked at yet. Enrosement deals have been made with individual musicians within the band, but not the entire band. For example, I'm currently working on having my own custom bass built...with the goal in mind of letting the public know about it.
What are the avenues of "customer retention" you consider most favorable for promoting your events (regular newsletters, postings/presence on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc., text messaging campaigns, vouchers, meet-and-greet events for artists and fans, etc.)?
Till Brandt: MySpace is most important.
Our personalized distribution list, however, is unrivaled. This is how we let people know about gigs and all important news about the band. Folks can subscribe on our website or at the venues.
You are currently touring, promoting your new album "I Sing You The Blues". Do you think you will (in 2011 at the latest) hit stages outside Germany and Switzerland (maybe throughout Europe)? How easy is it for promoters and booking agents to reach you?
Till Brandt: We are busy working on extending the performance schedule for 2011. In this context, we, of course, keep our eyes and ears open to grasping opportunities throughout Europe. The situation in The Netherlands looks particularly favorable for us at the moment. Folks will also be able to book us via Select Bookings (http://www.dvd-select.nl/bookings) in future. Promoters throughout the world can get in touch via email@example.com or call Till Brandt, phone +49-(0)2173-250316.
Picture reference: All pictures courtesy of Get The Cat, Cologne/Germany