• SUPPORT NEEDED – A Letter from Grime Studios


    Below is a letter from Grime Studios that I wanted to share with the Babacita community. Grime Studios is a professionally managed rehearsal space for dedicated musicians of all genres who need 24/7 access in a place where it’s OK to play loud. The present location is being developed and they are in the final push to raise funds for a new location. Tuesday at 5 pm is the deadline. As a supporter of artists, creativity and Grime Studios, I wanted to help push out this request. Thank you for your consideration and support!


    Grime Studios logo


    October, 17, 2014

    Hey everyone (friends, supporters and especially the tenants of Grime Studios),

    Many of you know by now that 299 Presumpscot Street, Portland has been under contract for over a month to be the next home for Grime Studios, with a 10 year lease and two 5 year renewals on the table. A massive fundraising champaign has been underway in attempts to reach as large of a chunk as possible of the estimated buildout cost, which having had several contractors bid out the jobs, is now expected to top well over $100K. This can be lowered to an extent with sweat equity (stay tuned) but in the interest of time and deadlines, a large chunk of this buildout will have to be jobbed out. At this point, just over $50K has been raised, when factoring in a loan for $35K (which is still pending, though I have no doubts that it will be approved), private donations totaling $13K and the indiegogo champaign which as of this morning was just over $3200.

    The largest challenge with raising this money has been time. Time has been very short. The landlord for the 299 site has been very generous with allowing as much time as is feasible for this first fundraising phase to take place, however, at the end of the day, it is quite an expensive space to have sitting vacant, and even though Grime is currently first in line and will retain exclusive rights until early next week, there is a long line of other potential tenants.

    Basically, the dilemma is that if I do not sign a lease by 5PM next Tuesday (10/21), Grime will lose it’s place in that line. However, if I were to sign a lease without a large portion of the buildout costs raised, I will be risking the possibility of not being able to raise the rest of the cash in time to finish the buildout to open and start paying rent on time. If that were to happen, I would essentially be breaking the lease agreement and as nice of a guy as the landlord is, he would have the rights to sue Grime (and me as it’s guarantor) for 10 years worth of rent.

    The 299 site is building #7 in this insane search for a new home for Grime. I have always thought that no matter how cool any potential “new building” may end up being, none will be even close to as cool as the current building. As special as the spot on Thompson’s Point is and always will be when it is gone, I have to say that without even factoring in the cool landlord and the fact that the numbers work, this spot at 299 Presumpscot St is really amazing.

    Grime Studios has become something that I feel is way bigger then I am as a person. That does not mean that running it is too big for me to handle by any means, but what it does mean is that this is not about me or me having a cool job or whatever else. It is about anyone being able to in a creative sense, essentially “be all they be.” That can mean whatever that individual wants it to mean. Indie-folk rock, reggae, grunge warship, funk, prog, psychedelic rock, pop punk, blissed out shoe-gaze, d-beat hardcore, power-electronic noise, the most psychotic blackened war metal imaginable… anything goes genre wise, but if someone just wants to rent an art studio to paint in or set up a potter’s wheel or even set up a dark room with 24 hour access, that works to.

    I have no doubts that if I can just get the damn thing built, Grime Studios will for many years to come, allow hundreds of musicians and artists to “be all they can be.” And, a ripple effect of it will be that, yes, Portland Maine will in all likeliness finally earn it’s place as a real music and arts cultural hub, legitimately standing along side Brooklyn, Austin, (the other) Portland and perhaps even the Bay Area.

    Personally, I feel like a lot of folks from here in town try to talk this place up as if it is already there. Speaking only for myself, I have always thought that mindset to be silly. Many people I’ve met from Europe, out west or even places like New York City or Philadelphia still don’t even know where Maine is. I am not doing any of this to put Portland Maine on the creative arts map, but I do believe that it will be a byproduct of Grime successfully relocating and expanding. I also believe that if Grime is not relocated, Portland Maine can forget about becoming any kind of legit music town for many years to come. Without a solid local scene, those who book interesting out of town acts are simply not going to be encouraged to take the risk of bringing those tours up here. Maybe every now and then as has been in the past, but for the most part, I think Portland will continue to remain out of focus with most national and regional tours without a solid local music scene in place. Grime is the backbone of that scene.

    I think most people reading this know that even though I have been advised against it, if the fundraising is able to reach $80K (even if in commitments and not cash in hand) by next Tuesday, I am going to take the risk and move forward with this. Contrary to popular belief, I am not much of a risk taker. Maybe in the eyes of others but I have very rarely jumped into a situation (of any kind) that I didn’t wholeheartedly believe was not only the right thing to do but would indeed be a success. I may not like asking other people for money, but I do believe in this project. Unless I get hit by a car, I will be personally be seeing it through.

    For those who do not yet know, Grime has recently filed with the state to switch from an LLC to a non-profit (5o1-c3) and though it generally takes a year for the IRS to acknowledge this, there is a fiscal sponsor (Creative Space) already in place which means that all donations are tax-deductible immediately (please get in touch via email for more info). Also, the Phase One Indiegogo champaign (link is below) has been extended an additional 30 days. These developments are both good news, but Tuesday is still the day to sign a 10 year lease or to pull the plug on the 299 site and start over from scratch (with $10K in legal, consulting and architectural fee’s down the tube).

    PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING (any amount) to the relocation of Grime Studios. If you can not donate, please forward this or “like” it or “share” it or “tweet” the link to it or repost it (especially bands!!!) or whatever. Without a place to rehearse and create, there is nothing to bring to a stage or to record later.

    Many thanks to those reading this who have already donated. Links are below, as are some attachments with more info and media coverage and please feel free to get in touch with questions.

    THE TIME IS NOW. Let’s rock…


    justin curtsinger
    Grime Studios
    Portland, Maine

    DONATE HERE: http://igg.me/at/grimestudios

    instagram: #grimestudios
    twitter: @grimestudios


    Portland Forecaster (from last week):http://www.theforecaster.net/news/print/2014/10/07/mettle-metal-portland-bands-face-prospect-vanishin/211638

    Portland Phoenix (on stands yesterday): http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/160138-grime-studios-in-final-fundraising-stretch/

    Portland Phoenix (from last June): http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/158610-finding-the-practice/#.VBTKoTOF99c.facebook

    New 8 (last Thursday): http://m.wmtw.com/news/rock-on-portland-music-institution-must-relocate/29041234

  • The legacy you leave when you’re gone.


    It sounds so morbid to think of your legacy after you’re gone, BUT for artists, writers and musicians the truth of the matter is many become famous after their lifetimes.

    Some of the greatest inspirations in history weren’t fortunate to live in a time where social media and being able to connect with people from around the world was even a thought.

    Think about:

    Henry David Thoreau – only published two books before he died and is now hailed as one of the most important American writers of his time.

    Van Gogh – we’ve all heard the stories of the crazy artist and how his nearly 2,000 paintings weren’t discovered until after his death. The originals are now worth millions and are massed produced as prints on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs.

    Or more recently:

    Sublime – did you know they disbanded (because of the death of their lead singer) two months BEFORE their major label debut? That album has gone on to sell more than six million copies.

    We can’t be immortal, but as a creative person your life’s work will live on after your gone, wouldn’t you like to be able to help form how that impression will be shown?

    By understanding how people view you today, through your branding efforts, you have the opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the world to see.

    Things to think about:

    • Are you proud of your current work?
    • Are you proud of who you are as a person?
    • Have you put a project on the back burner that calls to you because someone (or maybe that little voice in your head) said it wasn’t good enough?

    Here’s a little exercise to get your creative juices rolling.

    Take out a sheet of paper, your smartphone, your laptop whatever works, make three columns on the document in front of you.

    • In column one: Write down the top 10 words you would use to describe your art
    • In column two: Write down the top 10 words you would use to describe yourself
    • In column three: Write down the top 10 words you would want to be remembered by (even if they don’t apply yet).

    Now set this aside and pick 5 people you trust and ask them. How would you describe me & my art?  Ask them to be honest with you. Once you’ve gathered these lists. Go back to your original and circle any words that overlapped between your lists and theirs. These are the items you have nailed! Congrats! The items that you didn’t circle are the items you should be focusing on developing.

    AND remember, the time you spend on the branding process will pay off in the long run!

  • Branding your Music

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    Branding your music can cause anxiety in artists quicker than finding out your favorite stage outfit has gone missing a few minutes before a gig, but it shouldn’t and this is why.

    Musicians have always been categorized, branding is no different.

    It’s a way of categorizing what you are about so that you can find your ideal audience. It’s also a way for you to stand out in a crowd of other similar artists.

    Take for example the “country artist” that doesn’t really tell you much about the artist except they play a traditional type of music that originated in the Southern United States. When you start breaking this down, you can categorize the music into new country vs. old country, cross-over Country Pop music (meaning it may also be popular in top 40 or mainstream Pop charts), or even rockabilly (which is the mix of rock and country or bluegrass)

    I could offer similar examples to about every genre out there.

    The branding process is what will make people think of you as an artist and not necessarily your genre, but it will make you stand apart from others in your genre.

    So many times I see flyers that say “Country Artist so-and-so playing tonight”. It doesn’t tell me about the person and why I would want to go see that person play, if the artist had honed in on their branding I bet the poster would have read something like “The country sensation behind hits like ‘(insert name of song here)’” or maybe “Join local artist (insert name) and enjoy their amazing rockabilly styling before they head off on a national tour.”

    These are pretty broad examples, but by working on your branding process with me I will help you pinpoint who your audience is and come up with a true marketing plan that will help you achieve your goals.

  • Writers Block & Branding


    Writers block & branding don’t seem like an ideal pairing at first glance, but as Kurt Vonnegut once said:

    “Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” 

    Recently, I had a consultation with a writer who had reached a block regarding how to get the word out on his writing; to bring it to a greater audience. His work is very personal and he was having trouble where to put his energy and efforts due to all the ideas swirling around in his head.

    We needed to come up with a solid marketing plan for his work but that is hard to do when you don’t know what to say, when you’ve reached that block. You have so many ideas, the perfect freedom, that you can’t move forward.

    So how do you progress?

    The first step you need to take is to evaluate your brand and let your brand guide you through the process. Defined properly it will never lead you astray.

    A simple technique we used was to discuss his personal goals and his writing – what was he passionate about? What are his words and writing about? What drives him as a person? Questions like these got to the root of his brand. In his case, a lifelong love of questions and questioning.

    You can do this yourself, grab a friend or family member, someone you trust and can be open with, ask them to brainstorm with you and repeat back what they are hearing you say. The verbalization of the words is more powerful than keeping them inside.

    Next, we touched upon his target audience. Age range? Gender? What they read and where they read it? What other places would this persona be found?

    Once we knew the basis of his brand and where his target audience was. I directed him to simply list all his ideas out and order them as they relate to his brand, the lifelong love of questions and questioning, and his target audience.

    What new ideas support this? What illuminate and excite? THOSE are the ideas to focus on now. The other ideas are valuable but just may need some more time to germinate.

    The outcome of our session was a list of actionable items he can use to get past his block:
    • Creating a book or memoir from blog posts
    • Collaborations with artists or musicians in local coffee shops, etc.
    • Working with a young artist from a local art school to help bring his words even more to life with some illustrations
    • Continue expanding his social media reach through consistent posts that relate to his brand of questions
    • Expanding his blog to include a section for general public posts on questions and questioning, more two-way interaction with his audience

    We packed a lot in in a short period of time, but the resounding foundation is his brand. Using “a lifelong love of questions and questioning,” as the checks and balances of everything moving forward. That’s a way to remain true to yourself and your art, as well as communicate consistently to your audience who you are and what you stand for.

    Are you living in freedom or bound by your lack of branding?

  • Artist Branding via Babacita 

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    Whether you’re a writer or musician, sculptor or performance artist your artist brand is foundational. It’s the perception of you and your art, and supersedes any performance, gallery showing or promotion. It’s the groundwork for integrating and communicating to your audience what you and your art stand for.

    I’ve had the recent pleasure of working with James Libera, a Chicago-based singer and entertainer who was looking to take his business and art to the next level by increasing shows, audience following and overall awareness.

    Recently we discussed the process I take with clients to discover their brand. While working with James during a Session One Discovery Session, we went through the process of creating a business and brand-building roadmap.

    After defining his brand and assets of his art as a performer, we spoke about the ways to fine-tune and grow this brand going forward. These included audience touch points and marketing recommendations. You can see the full report here.

    James has put the plan we created in place and is already seeing a return on his Session One investment.

    Using Babacita was a simple solution to all my marketing mistakes. John worked with me personally and helped craft my brand in such a way that I can now be confident presenting what I do to a wide market. Thank you for that personal touch that truly gave you the vision to better help me. Having a long time professional marketing wiz in your corner, giving you direction and advice to market your brand seems like an artists dream come true. Well it is, and was for me. I have been consistent with your plan and have noticed a significant change in how the owners, agents and the audience have responded since using the approach you gave me. Both I and my family thank you! ~James Libera  P.S. Babacita is the BEST!!!

    In your opinion, what aspects of an artist are the most contributing factors into developing and/or strengthening an artist’s brand? Would you like to see the same results as James? Contact us today to discuss our artist branding options.

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