Give It the Old College Try

Give It the Old College Try: Regular Shows

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…regular shows.

Give It the Old College Try: Competing

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…competing.

Give It The Old College Try: Creating/Refining Your Website

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…creating/refining your website.

A group’s website is, in many ways, its primary connection to the outside world. For the uninitiated, it informs visitors that a group exists. Once folks are aware of this, it provides a window into the group’s soul—a deeper illustration of who the group is and what it’s about, offering everything from recordings, to member profiles, to show dates, to a list of your repertoire. While there’s no substitute for seeing a group perform live, checking out its website is often a key lead-in or follow up step for fans to familiarize themselves with a group.

It’s important that a site look professional. Unfair as it might seem, your presence on the web is a reflection on your organization on the whole. If a site is poorly organized, and full of broken links and typos, it can go a long way toward indicating that your group is not a serious one. Such practice can ostracize potential fans, or make another group second guess whether they’d like to invite you in as a guest group. On the flip side of things, a polished website invites visitors in, helps a group put its best face forward, and can lead to an expanded audience and more networking opportunities.

Perhaps the most important function of all for an a cappella group’s website is that it helps people be your fans. A strong website will include an up to date list of upcoming shows, making it easy for supporters to know when they can see you perform live. What’s more, the use of media—be it MP3 downloads, YouTube clips, or something else—can give people the opportunity to sample you work, as well as to share it with the uninitiated, so they can sell your group all the more. In addition, a website provides the opportunity for the public to get to know group members. While some folks may be wary of aca-stalkers, a profile shot and some fun facts can help to show your group’s personality, and make supporters all the more excited about seeing you perform again.

All in all, a group’s website is an awesome source of publicity, a chance to build connections, and a way to communicate with and broaden its fanbase. We recommend you give creating or refining your website the old college try.

Give It the Old College Try: Make A T-Shirt

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…making a t-shirt.

On the surface, making a t-shirt for your group may seem a bit frivolous, and, indeed, like it could be a waste of time. After all, what a could a t-shirt have to do with music, or the success of your group?

Regardless of how good your group is, it’s not going to have name recognition unless people have heard of you. Creating a t-shirt is like creating a walking billboard. It advertises the group in a unique way—putting the name out there for the public to see, and in such a way that its easier for the wearer to use as a topic of conversation, introducing the group to the uninitiated.

What’s more a group t-shirt can be a fantastic way of developing group identity. Like a team jersey, group t-shirts establish a commonality between members, as well as fans, adding to the sense that the group is a cohesive one, and one in which members take pride.

On top of everything else, a t-shirt can be a really fun memento by which group members and their supporters can remember an ensemble. Whether it just features the name of the group, or is littered with inside jokes, either way, it goes a long way toward commemorating a fine time spent together.

T-shirts can function as a source of publicity, group identity, and memories for years to come. We suggest you give them the old college try.

Give It the Old College Try: Visiting a Local School

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…visiting a local school in your community .

As we’ve established in earlier editions of GIOCT, a cappella groups have a lot of opportunities for doing good deeds, for networking, and for building community among their ranks. There are few more effective ways to capture all of these ends in one than by stopping by a local elementary, middle or high school.

While a lot of folks hold the stigma that a cappella music is not cool, you’ll be hard pressed to find people who aren’t at least a little won over the first time they see a contemporary a cappella group live. Not to take anything away from the barbershop or more spiritually-related groups of the world, but they are a harder sell to young people. Send out a collegiate group, covering acts Radiohead to Kelly Clarkson, and immediately make a cappella fun, relevant—perhaps even cool. In making the music so entertaining and so accessible to a younger audience, you’re acting as an ambassador for the a cappella world, and quite possibly setting the foundation for the next generation of a cappella performers and enthusiasts. This is all the more true if you accompany your performances with demonstrations and workshops that help the kids take some a cappella skills home with them.

In addition to fostering a love for a cappella in young people, getting out into the community fundamentally provides the opportunity to expand your audience and spread your name. It’s easy for a collegiate group to remain unknown outside the confines of its own campus. Participating in these sorts of projects puts you out to children and their families, school staff, and perhaps even local media.

Perhaps most importantly of all, in contributing a bit of your time to a school, you are doing the right thing. A small good deed can go a long way in helping your community, bolstering group morale, and helping to develop a good name for you and your crew.

All in all, visiting a local school helps the children and helps you—it’s a win-win. We suggest you give it the old college try.

Give It the Old College Try: Raising Money for a Good Cause

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…raising money for a good cause.

On campuses all around the world, a cappella groups have, with good reason, emerged as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. With this popularity, today’s groups are enjoying more chances than ever to perform at a variety of venues in a variety of ways. This provides the opportunity to become school-wide celebrities, and even to turn a buck or two through ticket sales, performance fees for special events, and the sale of CDs and merchandise. With an influx of revenue, many groups may contemplate what the best use of this money is. Ultimately, what better use could there be than supporting a good cause.

Many groups have elected to hold shows in response to tragedies. In recent years, a number groups have raised money to go toward Hurricane Katrina relief, to respond to the Virginia Tech shooting. Such efforts demonstrate a wonderful social consciousness, and provide supporters with a tangible cause to know that they are supporting, both of which can lead to more people attending a show, and donating more freely to the cause.

Give it the Old College Try: Bringing in a Guest Group

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…bringing in a guest group.

So you’ve got a big show coming up, and with that you’re in desperate search of a big crowd. You’ve hung up flyers, you’ve set up the Facebook event, you have word of mouth going, and yet, still, you’re not sure about how attendance is going to look. Beyond that, you’re worried your dedicated audience might be getting bored, because you’re still performing essentially the same set you’ve been doing for the last three months. The answer to your problems? Bring in a guest group.

Having visitors—ideally from another school—goes a long a way toward helping your group, and helping your shows. First and foremost, having a guest group come in will go a long way toward entertaining your audience. It provides something genuinely different. If you have an all-male group, bringing in an all-female or mixed ensemble is going to provide a decidedly different element to your show. Similarly, bringing a group from a different geographic region, or even a very different school from the same area can go a long way toward giving your show a different, possibly even ‘worldly’ feel. Taking it all in, guest groups provide a really different concert experience for your audience.

Give It The Old College Try: Going On Tour

Collegiate a cappella groups have the chance to undertake a variety of endeavors, projects and adventures. Give It the Old College Try highlights opportunities a group may have overlooked or not thought of up to this point.

In suggesting these ideas, we openly acknowledge that there are groups with greater experience and knowledge on the topic than we can share. We welcome readers to chime in in the comments section.

In this edition, we suggest groups try…going on tour.

OK, so your group has had concerts on campus, and has made appearances at everything from freshmen welcome events to school basketball games. What’s more, you’ve tested your metal against other groups in competition. What’s left to do? What other ways are there to get your sound out to a wider audience?

In three words: hit the road.

Touring is a no small undertaking for a collegiate a cappella group. After all, you have to think about how and where you’ll book performances, what you’ll do about lodging, how you’ll pay for it, how you’ll find the time to get your whole crew out on the road without it taking a toll on your academics, social lives and other obligations.

If you can overcome all of the challenges, though, there a wide array of benefits to touring. Depending on the length and scope of the tour, each year, groups use parts of their winter vacations, spring breaks, or summers traveling between other colleges or other venues to put on shows in foreign territories.

On of the most immediate benefits of touring is the potential to connect with more people. For example, a California-based group that makes an east coast swing will have the opportunity to meet any number of a cappella enthusiasts—members of other groups who host them, fans who come out to see the shows. These connections can prove invaluable for booking future performances, besides giving a group the opportunity to see what other groups are doing, and to try out its material on a new audience—one of the truest tests of just how good a group has become. On top all of this, there are few better opportunities to sell CDs and merchandise than after wowing a new crowd with your live act.

Outside of the potential for musical and business gains of touring, it also provides a unique and powerful opportunity for your group to bond. Whether traveling in a caravan of cars, via bus, train or plane, the experience of traveling together provides a wealth of opportunities group members to get to know one another better. What’s more, there are incredible opportunities to take in sights, and essentially enjoy a vacation as a group of friends when you hit the road.
Touring holds awesome networking potential, as well as opportunities for musical, professional, and community development. We suggest you give it the old college try.