Monday, October 20, 2014

Janet and Ted's Excellent Shanghai Adventure

Janet and Ted returned red-faced from Shanghai on Friday! Yep, our intrepid world travelers got themselves into trouble in this beautiful city - but they were saved by the incredible kindness and outstanding helpfulness of local law enforcement and hotel staff!

So what happened?
Janet: "We had some free time to explore this fascinating, cosmopolitan city. Ted and I were walking along one of the busy streets of Shanghai when four "20-something" students approached us, wanting to practice their English. They were quite friendly and charming.  So we chatted away.

They told us about a tea festival down the street. Always up for a new experience, we went along.  We entered a small tea shop and learned a lot about tea and these 20-year-olds.

We had a great time and felt, when the bill came, that we should offer to pay. That evening, over dinner, Ted and I thought about the bill and could not help but wonder whether we had been overcharged as it was somewhat confusing at the time.  Anyhow, how much could some cups of tea cost? The next morning I checked my VISA card online, and sure enough: the bill was an outrageous $1694!!!! Ted and I were duped!"

Yes, we know: DUH!

Now, this would have meant a painful financial loss and lesson in many places in the world and here in the U.S. where local authorities would consider this a price to pay for touristic gullibility - but Janet and Ted were in Shanghai, China, where hospitality and helpfulness reign.

Janet: "I informed our hotel about the incident, thinking it may help warn other guests. To our surprise, they immediately called the police. The nearest station sent a policeman within minutes! Wow, what an incredible response to assist some dumb tourists - yes, we have to admit it, we fell hook, line and sinker for one of the oldest, international scams in the world. Maybe we should read guide books! The policeman, Ted, a concierge and a hotel security staffer ventured out to try to find this obscure tea shop. Ted had a photo of us near a building that provided a landmark. We were invited to drive in a paddy wagon around the first possible police district.

No luck. We struck out in our precinct. But our policeman did not give up. He referred us to his colleagues in the neighboring precinct.

So we visited the second police station    — and now two policemen, our hotel concierge and security guard,  Ted and I walked the streets to find this obscure tea shop.

And we did!
In fact, we walked  into the same room and found the scam artists with two New Yorkers! Yes, even those hard core New Yorkers fell for the scam!

It was me living my dream - just like on Law and Order. I busted the “thieves” while shouting to the grateful New Yorkers "They stole from us! Get out!"
Yes, fabulous memories for a life time!

We then got into another paddy wagon with the crooks and we all went to the police station. After some time the tea shop owner came in and the police made him go to the ATM and return our $$$.

Moral of the Story: Even Veteran Travelers and New Yorkers can be duped - but in Shanghai the Police and hotel management went above and beyond to save us from our own mistakes.

谢谢 - Thank You for your assistance and incredible support!

Thank you to Ted Bowers for capturing our (mis)adventures with his camera!

What a week it was!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Pay Up or Face The Music! What You Need To Know About Copyrights!

If found guilty of copyright infringement, under the criminal portion of the law, or liable, under the civil portion, you may face a penalty of five years imprisonment and up to $250,000 in damages.

Did we get your attention?

What we are talking about is a specific niche in overall copyright law: the soundtrack of your event sizzle reel. You produce a gorgeous affair, Your video team is taping hours of footage. You edit an exciting few minutes,  showing decor, costumes, location, catering and entertainment to promote and demonstrate your work and place the video on your YouTube or Vimeo channel. More often than not we use the native sound, i.e. the band's stage performance audio on the reel. In some cases, we use another song on the soundtrack.

So what rights do we have to worry about?

Record companies and copyright companies have developed software that allows them to find the most obscure video and its soundtrack. And they will come after you if you violate any copyrights.
And there are different rights to worry about: Master Rights, Synchronization Rights, Publishing Rights.

A number of notions are floating around, such as "fair use", "public domain"  and "promotional use" and alike. It's confusing and possibly costly in consequences. 

So we decided to investigate the situation and bring you a comprehensive fact sheet.

We contacted the United States Copyright Office ( by telephone.
Botttomline: "fair use" is a legal argument that does not even come into play until you are standing in front of a judge!
If you use any copyrighted material, you have to figure out which copyrights apply, who owns them and negotiate the right to use it.
The fact that you paid the copyrights for the night of the performance does not include the right to copy the work on video and distribute it.

Next we contacted ASCAP and the Recording Industry Association of America to see whether the argument that we are just promoting our own work and not making money off these recordings or performances with these videos make any difference.
The answer is a resounding "No".
ASCAP published a very useful tip sheet to help everyone obtain necessary rights:
How You Can Clear Cover Songs, Samples, and Handle Public Domain Works

So what about public domain and what is an event producer to do to show off their work without landing behind bars?

We checked in with our Picture Editor Garth Grinde.

Garth: "Even with music in the public domain, published before 1923, you still have to figure out whether the recording is newer. Any public domain song recorded after 1923 is still protected by Master Rights. And if the original piece is updated and altered, it may no longer fall under public domain at all!

I suggest to my clients to compose and create! It is really easy these days to get your very own music. You can find independent composers online or find unique pieces on SoundCloud that you can obtain easily. It is your safest bet.
If you are using the event sound,  keep your video postings private and password protected. This way it is clear that you have no intention of gaining profits off the recording. Should anyone come after you, you can prove that the video is only a demonstration and you did not make money with the music.
And most importantly: when you negotiate the contract with your talent, negotiate the demonstration rights upfront so you have it in the contract that you can use their performance for any promotional purposes!"

Yes, a simple sizzle reel can cause a lot of trouble.
We recently received a warning from Vimeo - and we are now dotting "i"s and crossing "t"s.
We hope this information is helpful to you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bonjour from Ted Bowers! An Event Report from Paris and London

What does it take to ensure a flawless conference in two European Capitals within 4 days? Ted Bowers' nerves of steel and expertise!

Obviously, we all offered to carry his briefcase and fetch his coffee to go along on this enviable task: the technical production of a conference series in London and Paris. But Ted did not need hometown support.

Our client Dennis Maggi, Executive Director of the very prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, has been relying on us to provide flawless technical and event support for their two annual conferences for several years. We have built a relationship of trust and we really are proud of these assignments.

Dennis Maggi: "The College has partnered with Eventworks on our production and events more than twenty years.  It is a collaborative effort and as a small staff organization we consider the team that travels with us to be an extension of our own staff. The College wouldn’t be able to do what it does without the great relationship we have with the Eventworks team."
 Ted Bowers: "These conferences need  live event audio and video support as well as a complete recording of all events for meticulous archiving. We have been working together for many years and we adhere to a strict protocol to ensure 100% secure service. Capturing top quality video and audio and preparing the material is essential to the very structured archiving. Any moment of any conference has to be retrievable from the archives easily. Providing a set technical standard is therefor paramount to this task. Recently, the College has added new technology to make the conference more interactive for the attendees. We provide support for this effort as well, especially to the attendees who have to learn how to use it."

Usually these conferences take place in North America but every few years the members travel to Europe. They chose London and Paris for this year's Fall Conference.

Ted: "We had produced this conference in Europe in the past, 8 years ago. Preparation and sourcing require more attention as formats and norms tend to be different. We sourced two great A/V vendors to support us overseas. In London we worked at Grosvenor House where the in-house A/V team is really outstanding. They were fantastic to work with and provided great service!"
 "In Paris we settled into the Great Ballroom of the newly renovated, historic Grand Hotel. I had selected a Dutch company that has a Paris branch for A/V support assistance. Once we had our teams in place, everything went very well. We only encountered one challenge in both locations: both ballrooms were used for other events just before our conference so we had to set up overnight. Starting at midnight, we had to be ready for an 8am conference start. Thankfully, everything went very well."

There was not much time for sightseeing but Ted managed to squeeze a couple of quick excursions into his schedule.
"I left a couple of days early to adapt to the time change and visit the Gloucestershire Mainline Heritage Railway,  two hours outside of London. In Paris I was walking distance to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, by far my favorite sightseeing attraction on this trip."

Wishing you "une bonne semaine"!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sources of Inspiration: We ♥︎ Twist Is The New Twerk

We had one of those "Ohhhhh" moments recently during an event set up. The audio crew was finalizing the stage set up and running sound checks. The loudspeakers came to life - and we pricked up our ears!

Event Producer Kristen Rensch: "At first, everyone just went on with their work but after the first verse was over, there was this shared moment of surprise. We stopped and looked up, really all at once. What was this classic Doo Wop music? Somehow it sounded so familiar. And yet again so different. And finally the "wow, that is a current pop hit! But done so differently and so well that everyone wanted to know "who is that?". The sound crew was playing  Postmodern Jukebox's album "Twist is The New Twerk". Huge success! We all loved it and  several people logged on to buy the album on the spot. I guess we are all ready for something fresh and different - and Postmodern Jukebox really is."

Check out what Postmodern Jukebox did with Iggy Azalea's "Fancy"!

Postmodern Jukebox just started a weekly L.A. Residency at the Hyde Sunset this past Wednesday that will continue every Wednesday throughout the fall.
Our creative team is looking forward to experiencing their live show as part of our ongoing research - and frankly just for a great night out!

Hope you are swinging along this week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Event Tech Report: Streaming Music. Does This Work for a DJ?

Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Radio, Google Music - the musical cloud is getting more crowded every day. But how does this affect our industry? Can we just put together our Spotify list and pump it into the loudspeakers?

We checked in with DJ Lee Dyson.

Lee Dyson: "There is certainly no shortage of options these days for finding new music.
Pandora first created the Music Genome Project but like all great inventions some other companies have expanded and even enhanced the idea.

Call me a romantic but I do think we are so flooded with options now that something gets a bit lost.
As someone who grew up on cassettes and records (and eventually CDs) I remember the feeling of walking out of a store after hours of browsing with a bag full of goodies that I own.

I’d spend time reading the liner notes and listening to the album or CD from start to finish in correct song order as the artist intended for me to hear it.

As a DJ I’d spend hours and hours in dingy record stores picking through bins of crap just to find that one golden nugget.
Many times early on in my career I had to decide if I was going to eat well that day or come home with 3 new albums.

We will soon be to a point where nobody actually owns anything anymore.
Everything is cloud based and streaming so you are just renting access…not owning the music or art.
So depending on your views as a consumer that can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Artists definitely don’t think streaming is a good thing….they barely get pennies per stream.

 So how does all this affect the event/DJ industry?
For now I’d say streaming is mostly relegated to personal use.
As I DJ - no matter how good a WiFi connection is - I wouldn’t trust that a stream won’t drop out in the middle of my set so I can’t imagine DJ’s giving up their laptops and hard drives anytime soon.

Then there is the issue of what a DJ really does during an event.
Room awareness and the ability to read a crowd while constantly adapting  your set list is what keeps the energy going and can make or break an event.  Streaming, much like an Ipod is unable to do this…at least not yet.

To give credit where it’s due though I’ve found streaming services very helpful in expanding my repertoire of music and in researching songs to use for specific themed events.

Streaming aside, I still think one of the most amazing music related inventions of the last decade is Shazam. Finding new music is great but thanks to Shazam no longer does anyone have to say “what IS that song!?!”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Besides our emotional attachment to our own record collections, we have all experienced the holes in the cloud. We recently produced an event in one of the most gorgeous settings ever, Amangiri in Utah. We did not even have cell phone service. And yes, that was a challenging situation for me! Thank heaven for live music!
Very best,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ancillary Benefits of the Business Traveler's Life!

A big part of our job: business travel. Long hours on site but our team makes the very best of it!
We love ancillary benefits!

Like fabulous locations!
We spent the first week of the month in Boston to produce a series of events and we very much enjoyed the surroundings!
Here a shot of Brynne Price, Carolyn Vasi and Melissa Cowley on closing night at a site they loved: the Liberty Hotel.

Two nights prior, the setting was even more grandiose: The Museum of Fine Arts! We took care not to disturb Chihuly's Lime Green Icicle Tower!
To work in such exquisite surroundings is a pleasure!

The next ancillary benefit: restaurants! Event Producer Brynne Price is a self-confessed foodie and she loves to explore the new, trendy, most delectable and special places wherever she goes. Her biggest weakness: coffee drinks! We think she should write a travel guide just for coffee houses!
Until she does, you can follow her on Instagram: #hipsterfoodie! Not just Brynne's discoveries but lots of great tips from across the USA.

Here are Brynne's highlights from Boston!

Hungry travelers. I had Mark's Choice, of course �� #markymark @wahlburgers #touristbears

 Mei Mei Street Kitchen
Fantastic modern Chinese lunch at @meimeiboston #eatlocal #sustainable #hipsterfoodie

Cheers! Team dinner at one of Boston's best #eater #hipsterfoodie #eventworksla

And last but not least her favorite coffee house:

Pavement Coffeehouse
Round two. This latte is delicious #hipsterfoodie #coffeeaddict #boston

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Checking in With: Danny Bergold's New Group "ARIA" - Our Pop Opera Tenor Favorites

This was surely the most entertaining business meeting we had in recent months!

Danny Bergold, President and Managing Partner of About Entertainment, had scheduled a meeting to introduce us to some of his latest entertainment offerings and surprised us with a live performance by ARIA, his pop opera quartet.

We expected Danny with an iPad and his sizzle reel. In came Danny - with the four Australian born singers that form ARIA! Imagine our surprise! Nothing beats the real thing. We got an impromptu show  -  they sang the roof right off the building, unplugged with just a guitar for accompaniment!

Janet: "Their voices are just incredible, individually and in harmony! Once Scott Fields, Craig Hendry, Liam McLachlan and Jason Short started to sing, work all around EventWorks stopped. Everyone came out to watch the show. ARIA got a standing ovation from our seasoned event pros. These guys have exemplary talent and they clearly love what they do. The show was so much fun! Their good mood brightened everyone's day!"

Indeed, these four guys have known each other for a while, as they sang together in the Australian group The Ten Tenors.

Craig Hendry, musical director: "We coincidentally all left The Ten Tenors in 2009 and ended up moving to the United States for various reasons. I think after years of working on tour, traveling through 25 countries with a large group, we each just needed a break. Jason honed his media production and home construction skills. Liam worked for Barnes & Noble when he arrived on the West Coast, Scotty made a living as a wedding singer and I played dueling pianos in Texas. We were in touch through all of this because we are really friends. Liam was the best man at my wedding. So everyone was doing their own thing but in 2011 Jason called to ask whether we would get together for a charity singing gig in Texas. I quickly wrote some new arrangements and we performed together for the first time in several years. It was fun! And successful! We got several follow-up gigs and ended up formalizing ARIA in 2012. I moved to Los Angeles and we are making ARIA our priority. We all get on very well and working together is really enjoyable now. There is not so much pressure. We are not yet established. We can put the emphasis on a repertoire we really like. And after the concert, we all go and have a beer!"

Danny Bergold: "Their four unique voices bring a hitherto unheard blend of opera and pop, exploiting the versatility and range each of them brings to ARIA.  At ease with diverse repertoire from Puccini to Philip Philips, these boys from Oz pride themselves on delivering a musical experience that is raw and honest and, well, let’s face it – often vocally thunderous.  After all, they are from Down Under."

Please watch the video!  Jason Short applied his video production skills. These guys just know how to entertain!

ARIA EPK from ARIA on Vimeo.