Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Power of a Shared Vision

How do you know if you are on the right path? Well, one of the ways is if others are there with you and they keep you true to the vision. It is the power of a shared vision.

We recently had a crisis here at the SPC. It is nothing that most small businesses and organization hasn't seen before. We knew we would get through it. But what was truly amazing was how we rallied to find a solution - fast. We are much stronger for it.

If there was any doubt about the perseverance or determination of any one steel pan community, that has all passed. We all share the vision. Here at the SPC, we got to experience just how strong the steel pan community is. There is definitely power in numbers and a shared vision.

We now enter into this new phase with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. We even managed to infuse a little humor which we sorely needed recently. (Members can see some of that "Pan Humor" in one of the Engine Room blogs put up by a member of our board).

The steel pan community is pretty powerful. We have accomplished some pretty amazing things when you think about it. Not bad for an instrument and community that is around 70 years old.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Top Five Things When Getting Your Logo

What do you think about our new logo? We are pretty excited about it.

Having a logo is huge. It means so many things on so many levels. Do you need one for your steel pan group? Well that depends....It might be worth the investment if your group has been around awhile or has plan to be a mainstay in the local music community.

Here are our top 5 things to consider when it comes to a logo.

1) Get references - There are a ton of graphic designers or folks who claim to be designers. Make sure you work with someone with a reputation and actual samples to show. Ask colleagues, friends, or businesses who they use.

2) Shop around - One of the biggest shocks for us was the range in prices. Price doesn't necessarily equate into value. So find someone that does quality work at a reasonable price. We saw prices ranging from $0 to $850.  The free quotes came from friends and family members. We actually decided to pay for ours. We wanted to make sure we got what we paid for.

3) Delegate it - The scariest part is how to decide on which designs to go with. The less than ideal way is to decide by committee. It slows down the process especially since everyone has different tastes. Since our organization is made up of musicians, needless to say we are better suited to playing steel pans than picking color palettes. Have one person do it and go from there.

4) Find Examples - The thing that helped us was to remember what we liked in other organizations. We picked a couple of logos that caught our eye and went with that theme. It is easier on the designer if he has some examples of what you like.

5) Get All the Formats - This is critical. We plan to use our logo for many different things from websites to T-shirts. It was absolutely important to have all the possible formats and sizes we needed. If your designer only plans to give you .jpg or .png file, run don't walk to the next designer. It is less costly to get everything up front rather than have that designer or someone else redesign your logo.

Well those are a couple of things we learned. Hope that helps.

Friday, July 31, 2015

SPC Logo and Brand

Between working on the new logo and finalizing some of the Pan People Music festival videos, we finally have time to jot down a couple of thoughts.

Working on those two things in particular has really helped us hone in on what we are about here at the organization. We learned that a logo is merely a symbol for our organization. We also learned a thing or two about branding. Branding is more of a longer term affair. The example that was pointed out to us was Nike. Everyone know the Nike swoosh. That logo is pretty recognizable. But did you know the company spends millions of dollars to publicize its brand? The goal is to get you to think about them when it is time for that next pair of athletic shoes. We want that for the SPC - not for athletic shoes but for steel pans and their community.

So we are working on that with the logo designers. While we don't plan to spend millions of dollars on building our brand, what monies we do have will be put to good use. Our brand is to make sure steel pan players in the U.S have a community resource they can call their own. That means providing the means to connect with each other, helping them find resources to learn more about what is going on with U.S. steel pan, and highlight our members' performances. That's what we are all about.

So when you see our logo on the new T-shirts, a brochure, or even an advertisement for future Pan People Music Festival, you know what that symbol represents.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tying Up Loose Ends - And Now the Work Begins

The Pan Association at the 2015 Pan People Music Festival

Phew. It has been awhile since I've had time to jot down a few thoughts. Been busy tying up the 2015 Pan People Music Festival. It was a fun event and we are already thinking of ways to make 2016 even better.

1) We are finishing up the video(s) for the events. We hope to have one video showing highlights of the event and another showing off some of the performances. The bands did great if you missed it. You'll get a chance to see what I mean in a week or two. We'll post them up on the SPC You Tube channel and website.

2) We had a good number of folks attend this event roughly 200 throughout the day. Some came as far away as New Hampshire and Nebraska. The bulk came from all points in Colorado.

3) We are still hearing rave reviews on the food truck we had at the event - Stretch Comfort Food. They were so popular throughout the day, that they ran out of food. We were pretty happy for them.

4) We were selling copies of the Pan! Our Music Odyssey film at the event. The cost is $35 + S&H if you would like a copy. Looking at the bin next to my desk, I see we have six left. So hurry. Send me a note at info@steelpancollective.org if you would like a copy.

We have some of our members out and about at various festival around the country. We are hearing some great things about what they are doing. We had a couple at the Mannette festival and several will be at Pan Ramajay festival in Denver. You all make us proud!!!

As always, continue to have a great summer and stay tuned for more news.


P.S. Thanks to our contributors at the Pan People Music Festival. We have begun work on your gifts as we speak.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Just Swaiting for You

Well, we're two to three weeks away from Pan People Music Festival. As a member of the festival planning committee, I see all of us dealing with a mix of emotions. On one hand, we are very excited about the event and the talent we've assembled. On the other, we are a little freaked because we just don't know what to expect the day of the event. I guess that is to be expected when planning an event. You just never how it will turn out. We'll be ready either way though.

We do have a few things going for us. As I mentioned, the talent is top-notch. Auraria campus in the heart of downtown Denver is perfect. It is in June which usually means decent weather (cross your fingers). We are showing an excellent film (Pan! Our Music Odyssey) and the dinner being catered by Relish Catering sounds scrumptious.

It feels very much like it does when we step out onto the stage for steel pan performance. We rehearse, practice, and plan. The performances is when it all comes together. Whatever happens prior to the event gets forgotten and we put on the best show we can. I guess that is the best way to approach when it comes to the Pan People Music Festival.

So the swaiting (sweating and waiting) continues.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Steel "Panning" for Gold

Panning for gold! Anyone who lives out West knows the terms. Pioneers used it as one of the ways to strike it rich during the gold rush. It took some patience and perseverance to be sitting in streams and rivers hoping to find that one nugget that made their efforts worthwhile. (I wonder if they had just turned it over and tried to tune it, would they have made a better living or more fun?)

So why bring up the ancient history? Well as we continue to work on the Pan People Music Festival, it seems we too are panning for gold.  Every once in awhile, we strike it rich. We catch a lucky break and things fall into place. Sometimes it actually involves money! Yeah! It is the life of steel pan players. We try our best to share some of our riches with the pan community too.

Here are our gold nuggets for this week.

The Pan Ramajay Summer Steel Drum Festival announced its dates - it is one of the premier summer camps for steel pan players of all ages and abilities. It is headed by Tom Miller and Tom always pulls together an all-star faculty. Many attendees make it an annual event. You should too.

Pan People Music Festival - We launched our fundraising campaign for the festival and our logo. Our goal is $2000. We are welcoming any contributions starting at $5 on up. At the festival, we will be running drawings between band performances. We are already getting donations from such places as Trader Joe's and Core Power Yoga. Who knows? We also may have a steel pan to raffle off. We finalized our caterer for the Pan People dinner. It is Relish Catering and their menu looks scrumptious. Can't wait there.

Pan Magazine - It is one of the few publications on pan out there and it is entirely free. We let our members know about it too.

Be sure to register for the Pan People Music Festival soon if you are attending the film and dinner. Remember if you are a performer, volunteer, or SPC member - register under those categories and save some $$. Also make a contribution to our fundraiser. The monies go directly to the festival and our logo.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Passion and Pan

                                                                                     Image courtesy of Zazzle

Fridays are great for reflecting on what happened earlier in the week. As you know, the SPC board and our volunteers are working hard on the Pan People Music Festival in Denver. Each day we make significant progress and every once in a while there is an obstacle that surprises us. But we persevere. Looking back on it all, it is entirely worth it.

This week's Friday reflection is the connection between pan and passion. The pan community is a passionate group. It shows in our love for the instrument. We live, eat and sleep pan. Why else would a bunch of volunteers work so hard to put on a festival in a country not exactly overflowing with Trinidadians? Because we love pan, that's why. It is that love of pans that's gets us talking passionately about the instrument to anyone who will listen. It doesn't matter if they are festival vendor or our neighbor. Pan is new, fresh, and cool.

Come on, admit it. We play a very fun instrument. We aren't mainstream - at least not yet. Maybe that's the appeal. We are doing something special that not a lot of people are doing. Yes, we still have  some educating in terms of our audiences. But that's ok. It just makes it easier to fall and stay in love with the instrument.

As Dr. Kim Johnson said in his TedTalk, this community is very much like family. There is a connection and bonding that just doesn't happen if you are playing piano, or a saxophone, or even in a symphony. We have an awful lot of fun and it shows. We struggle together. We achieve together. There is nothing like the sound of a band who has nailed a musical piece.

Ok - clearly I could go on. But you get it. So this weekend if someone comes up to you and talks to you about steel pan or steel drum, go ahead and tell them. Let you passion show. Just know - you aren't alone. Somewhere out there, another pannist is doing the same thing.