This article explores the phenomenon that is Brooklyn's National Sawdust, a new venue and crew working to make life easier for artists by helping them to bring their vision to life onstage, while attracting new potential fans.
Being an artist in New York City means knowing how to hustle. Urban life is fast-paced and expensive, and competition is extreme. For musicians outside the pop mainstream, it can be tough getting paying gigs—never mind staying true to your art.
Brooklyn’s National Sawdust wants to make it a little easier for artists. The two-year-old music venue gives both well-known and unknown musicians the freedom and space to experiment with new sounds, from classical and new age music to hip hop and jazz.
National Sawdust’s employees—a crew of live music vets and musicians—work tirelessly to help artists bring their vision to life onstage. And their marketing team is tasked with attracting fans who are willing to pay for music they’ve probably never heard before.
Their hard work seems to be paying off: This year, National Sawdust announced the launch of an impressive roster of guest programmers, 30 newly commissioned works, and the start of an online arts journal.
So how does National Sawdust attract fans to such unique performances night after night? The team relies on technology to better understand what their fans want out of a live music experience—and exactly how much they’re willing to pay for a ticket.
Check out this short video to learn more about the up-and-coming Brooklyn venue:
“If we’re going to be a futuristic-thinking venue, we have to make the patron experience as futuristic, easy, and interesting as possible,” says Ticketing Manager James Petrine. “My job is very much based on using data and technology to create a more human experience for everybody.”
General Manager Angela Gonzalez and Petrine rely on technology and data to determine exactly how much fans are willing to pay for tickets to different genres of shows. Their ticketing technology also gives them insight into which of their fans are attending multiple shows and might be interested in the venue’s membership program.
“There’s so much work that artists have to do nowadays to support themselves.” Gonzalez confides. “If we can get fans to directly contribute to art that they feel passionate about, we are directly connecting the two points. As an institution, we want to be that bridge.”
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.