For Performers

At this time, each show’s COVID-19 policy is set by the performer. If you want us to advertise your show as ‘masks required by performer request’ and/or ‘vaccinated-only by performer request’, let us know. If, due to the shifting sands of COVID-19, you decide for your own health and safety to postpone your performance, let us know as far in advance as you can. Seating will be a minimum of eight feet from the stage, and chairs will be set up in pods of two. This policy may change without notice. The Stage 33 Live crew is vaxxed and boosted and would prefer it if you were too.
 
Three things that we can’t stress strongly enough:

1. We’re not a normal venue.

2. Nothing that isn’t under your own copyright is allowed. (Public Domain is OK.) If we hear a copyright violation, the PA gets turned off and the show is over. This is a zero tolerance policy. We don’t have performance rights licensing for the room because we can’t afford it. Federal copyright law requires this licensing if copyrighted material is being performed or played, and the penalties for violations are stiff. One fine would kill Stage 33 Live dead. It’s not arbitrary and it’s not just us being precious… we’re serious about this because we have to be. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re affiliated with a Performance Rights Organization; this rule is across the board. If you are an affiliate of one of the Performance Rights Organizations, your artist affiliate agreement is non-exclusive and doesn’t restrict you from negotiating performance licenses independently. You, as the copyright owner, issue license to us directly.

3. Performances must not promote discrimination, harassment, bullying, or sexual harassment, must be “PG-13” or milder, and FCC-safe. The FCC-safe part is ours, the rest is house rule established by the owners and tenants of the building that our performance space is in, which is space shared in common by the tenants, and is a public pass-through at all times and for all ages to the artists’ studios.


There’s lots more words here and they’re important too. We don’t want you to participate in something that turns out to be other than you expected… being transparent and thorough protects both you and us. We have rough edges, restrictions, and pitfalls, but we like to think that they complement the glory and guts of the project. Not everyone agrees, and that’s cool.
 

What dates do you have available?

Stage 33 Live is entirely run and done by volunteers, and everything we do requires the approval of the building’s owners and its tenants. We’re at the bottom of the food chain and we only exist through their grace. If we owned the real estate, or if the performance space was our proprietary room for our sole use, we could call more of the shots… but we don’t and it isn’t, so we can’t. The building’s owners and the building’s tenants have right of refusal of all performers and dates, and not everything we’ve asked to do has been given a green light.

Because of the cooperative nature of the space, we don’t have a regular schedule — but it’s approximately one show every three weeks, almost always on Sundays, from the last Sunday in August through the last Sunday in May. We’re painfully aware that this just won’t work for some who would like to get on our stage, and who we’d love to have on it.

When we have open dates, they’re listed here. They’re first-come, first-served and available for local, regional, or national performers or presenters.

  • Our fall-winter-spring 2021/’22 is booked solid. There are no overflow dates available.

2023 availabilities

  • We’re in a tight spot. Maybe it should be gratifying, but it’s heartbreaking. Our wait-list of performers and presenters who have very kindly asked us to be in touch when we have dates available — a number of them whose dates here were nixed by COVID-19 — exceeds the number of dates we’re going to have available in 2023.
     
    But because our limited schedule doesn’t always mesh with life in the real world, there will absolutely be people who won’t be able to make any of our dates work, so all hope isn’t lost. If you want get on the wait list, email us at stage33@stage33live.com — we can’t promise anything though.
     
    Unlike normal rooms, we’re first-come first-served. (Mostly. Our performance space is a public area and a common space shared by the building’s tenants. Every date and performer and presenter has to be cleared with the building’s owners and the tenants. This is fair and appropriate. If any one of the owners or tenants feel that a performer or their audience can’t or won’t follow the house rules, it’s unlikely that we’ll get a green light. Again, that’s fair and appropriate. We don’t own the real estate. It’s not even our room.)
     
    The plan, when we have dates confirmed, is to reach out first to people who asked for make-up dates for shows that got eaten by the pandemic, in order of postponement. And then reach out to new people who are on the wait list, in order of when they contacted us.

If you need to cancel, 30 days would be great though we recognize that’s not always possible. We’ll do the same for you. In the case of horrible weather, with your input we’ll try to call it one way or the other at least 24 hours in advance. Nobody is liable for things beyond their control. Performers are independent contractors. We don’t demand any exclusivity or lockouts. We’ll never cancel due to low presales… but we’re also never going to force anybody to play a show that they don’t think is worth playing — we don’t have the scratch to offer guarantees.

 

What sort of acts do you book?

The room has mostly defined itself as an acoustic folk/Americana singer-songwriter place, but we run jazz, pop, rock, and more. Informative and/or entertaining original spoken word is absolutely and enthusiastically on the table — humanities and science topics are always super-welcome along with artful words. We can accommodate speaker panels of up to seven people on the stage.

Only original, copyright-owned material is allowed, whether music or words. Public Domain and Fair Use is also OK (proof is on the performer). Two reasons for this: 1. to celebrate original creativity; and 2. we can’t afford licensing from the performing rights organizations… and we definitely can’t afford the hefty fines for violations — just one of those would shut us down forever. So no covers.

Additionally, all activity in the building has to be relatively family-friendly, sort of a soft R rating, per the tenants and stakeholders of 33 Bridge Street. They also have right of refusal of all performers and dates. Here are the House Rules we need to abide by, FYI. Since we record and film everything for eventual broadcast, having it all stay as FCC-safe as possible works out well anyway.

Our main intention is to help local and regional musicians and spoken word people find ears and eyes, but we also open our door to established and touring performers.

Everything we host is because somebody reached out to us. We don’t use a booking service, and we don’t solicit performers… don’t wait for an invitation, it’ll never come.

The people on the stage and the people in the audience are both there because they chose to be there for each other. It’s a beautiful symbiosis.

 

What’s the pay?

We firmly believe that all workers deserve to get paid for their work, and we do our best to make sure you get paid for yours. We hope to get paid for ours one day too. If you have a good show and wish to make a freewill donation to help keep the project going, we won’t refuse it. But we won’t expect it either.

Even though the project’s overhead is ultra-low, almost every time something breaks or insurance comes due we have to scramble. Sometimes the volunteers have put in their own money, which is a sucky thing. So beginning in 2023 we’re implementing a formula that still keeps almost all the money heading to the performers, and still almost certainly guarantees that the project will never cover its costs but will help us feel less perennially ill-prepared.

1. The first $100 of the door goes entirely to the headliner.
2. The second $100 of the door is a 50/50 split – half to the headliner, and half split between the sound person and venue.
3. Everything over the first $200 also goes entirely to the headliner.

This will generally meet the Fair Trade Music minimum wage for small solo concerts, but not always. We don’t snub artists who aren’t a guaranteed draw, but we’re also not able to offer a guarantee to anybody. Or deposit, meals, etc. We don’t even have a proper green room.

Like us, openers work without pay, which is a hard pill for us to swallow — though the documentation we (voluntarily) produce does have value. We do welcome openers to pass the hat, put out a tip jar, and/or sell merch. Headliners are welcome to tip openers, but it’s not required. (If a headliner brings on their own opener or co-bill, any financial arrangement is between them — we pay out cash on the night to the booking party only.)

We’ll work with headliners to set entry pricing to meet reasonable expectations. We can’t guarantee how many people will come to any given show, but there’s seating for 40. We were starting to see the results of cultivating a built-in audience, but the chilling social effects of COVID-19 continue to linger.

Our best turnouts have broken 40. That’s rare. Average for touring acts is a couple dozen, half that for locals. Or was, anyway. We’ve had some stinking rotten turnouts since the shutdown.

Ticket prices or donation-at-the-door (we’re happy to frame it either way) tend to range from a low of what-you-wish to $20 for a touring co-bill. For artists who don’t have to travel far to get here, $5 is common. Touring artists are usually $10/$15ish advance, $15/$20ish door.

We recommend resisting the temptation, if it rises up, to do a free show. We’ll do it if you insist, but in our experience if a value isn’t put on a show, people don’t value it. In our room, free shows have had the worst attendance. If you want to do entry-by-canned-goods-for-the-food-shelf or something, that’s awesome. We’re fine with flat price, age-tiered, or pretty much any other structure. If you want us to state that nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, we happily will. We’ve never tried a pay-as-you-exit scheme, but are open to the idea.

We we set up online advance ticketing / donations for every show. Walk-ups are pay-at-the-door festival seating.

All merch sales are yours; we can provide a well lit table near the stage but usually no staff.

For open mics and short sets, there’s no pay. But we do record and film those sets too, and the performer is welcome to use the material we produce in any way they see fit.

Normally we do everything on a handshake, but if you need us to sign something we will if it doesn’t seem skeezy. That said, we’ve been trying to distill everything on our end into a Performance Agreement; it’s still just a draft and might always be, but you can look at for reference if you’d like. It suffers from our usual neutron-like density.

 

How long do we play, when do we go on, when is load-in?

Headliners usually do one set clocking about 70 to 90 minutes. Openers, about 20 minutes. Co-bills doing individual sets tend to do about 45-55 minutes apiece, with a 10-minute break. Co-bills backing each other and alternating songs usually do one set of about 90 minutes. Something to note: Every time one act does two sets, there’s audience loss at the break no matter how amazing the performance is. Never happens when individual acts do a set each, just when one act does two sets. So weird.

Headliners and co-bills are encouraged to read the room and, if so moved, go longer or shorter by feel; when magic is happening we don’t want arbitrary rules getting in the way of it. Conversely, shows where things just ain’t clickin’ are rare in our experience. We’ve had seasoned players who do lots of listening rooms direct a short stand-and-stretch from the stage for about a minute when the audience seems to need it. With the right patter, it’s fun.

Headliners can bring on their own opener if they wish, or a co-bill; just let us know as soon as there’s an inkling that might happen. (Any time and money agreements are between you and them. We pay out full cash money on the night to the booking party.)

If we have an opener that seems like a decent fit, we’ll always seek headliner approval. We don’t require having an opener (let us know right away if you’d rather not have one), but it’s nice to get local players in on things… being as how that’s our mission and all. Sometimes a local musical match just doesn’t churn up though, and in that case we might ask to run three or four open-mic-style short sets (usually 10 minutes each with quick turnover) that can be wildly diverse. Often they’re people we’ve never seen or heard before. It’s fun.

When there’s no opener, we like to note that in the outreach to encourage people to be sure to get there on time. If there isn’t an opener lined up by a month before the date, we’d prefer to just roll without.

Most shows are either 7:00 PM evening starts or 3:00 matinees. Your choice. It doesn’t seem to affect attendance either way. Note that the room is daylit when the sun is out, but we run the lights anyway.

The first act usually starts a few minutes after the advertised start time, and headliners start after the opener plus a ~10 minute break. Door usually opens 30 minutes before start.

Load-in is whenever you feel comfortable getting there. There’s a loading dock and a cart if you’ve got a lot of stuff to schlep or it’s raining, or you just like loading docks as much as we do.

Our aim is to be ready for soundcheck at least 90 minutes before door, but we start setting up long before that. The room dials in quickly, but more soundcheck is better than less. If you don’t need monitors that’s great. Less bleed in the recording. Getting the monitors right takes longer than FOH.

 

What’s the room like?

It’s a makeshift space in an old factory turned creative economy incubator in a building on the National Historic Register that also has the studios of fine artists, craftspeople, and artisans. It’s a sort of souped-up house concert in a light-industrial setting. There are 40 chairs plus standing room. Total entry is cut off at 50, which has only ever happened twice.

Stage 33 Live doesn’t piggyback on a coffeehouse, or a bar, or a restaurant, and BYOB isn’t allowed. Given that the whole point of this thing is to honor the stage, we consider the lack of distractions a boon. Not everyone agrees and that’s OK. We do have coffee, soda, water, and weird snacks available (by donation for the audience, free for the talent).

We don’t have a proper green room, but there are a couple depressing, spartan places somewhat removed from the performance space where we can set you up.

 

What are the technical particulars?

The stage is 8′ deep and 16′ wide and about 5″ high, and has thick padding and plush carpet on it because the whole thing acts like a giant stomp box unless we damp it. We hope to do something about that from underneath at some point. The stage backdrop is black drape.

We have an OKish mic locker and everything normally needed for sound reinforcement. We normally use Shure SM7Bs for vocals. You can bring your own mics if you wish (condensers need to have crackerjack rejection), your own DIs if you want, whatever smalls help you feel comfortable. 16 channels of send. If you don’t need monitors we’re happy to not set them up because it helps keep bleed down on the recording. Monitor mixes are sent from the board; we don’t have personal monitor systems but sure wish we could afford to. Sound person supplied; you’re welcome to bring your own but ours will hover because of the weird dual live + multitracking nature of what we do. If you also have weird needs, let us know — we’ll try to make it happen. We don’t have any backline or house instruments. We have LED PARs for stage lighting, no fancy lasers or smoke machines or anything. The room is daylit during daylight hours, something to keep in mind.

We love stage plots and input lists.

If you want to do a true acoustic show with no amplification whatsoever (including nixing the PA), we’re game.

 

Do you promote?

Guerilla. We can do it better if you supply an EPK with good bio and press boilerplate, high-res photos, and anything else that seems useful.

We land decent column-inches pretty regularly. We list in appropriate calendars. We push hard on social media even though social media seems to be increasingly irrelevant. We have an opt-in email newsletter. We poster in choice spots.

Much effort and time is given to selling the sizzle, but sometimes turnout is disheartening even for those with comparatively wide renown. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to what clicks and what doesn’t. For many pros and touring folks, working for door in a small room is deal-breaker territory, and appropriately so. On the other hand, we feel no shame in being a tour-hole-filler.

Our best turnouts have broken 40. That’s rare.

There’s almost always a positive difference in attendance when a local or regional artist promotes as aggressively as we do. For touring folks it doesn’t seem to make much difference unless they have a decent base in the region.

Even though the real legs of the project is the documentation, we’d much rather have more people in the room than fewer. But there are about as many advantages to having almost nobody in the room as vice versa, honestly. If you want us to go lean on the outreach or want to impose a tight limit on tickets, we’ll do that. If you want to have a closed set on purpose, we’ll try to accommodate it. Performers booked elsewhere may be contractually restricted from additional public performances, though may want to pop in on the down-low for a closed set. Or if you’re a bigwig wanting to play secret show under a pseudonym, we’re down with shenanigans and can keep a secret.

These facts are a big part of why we’re doing this, and we say them without negativity: The immediate community is a one-square-mile rural village of 3,000 with a poverty rate of over 25%. The wealth, education, and leisure gaps are wide. Going out to listening rooms, especially ones without alcohol, just ain’t part of the lifestyle for most around here. A strong percentage of the attendees come in from nearby communities and farther-flung places; at one memorable show, five states were represented. But our local attendee pool is growing, so we’re doing something right.

 

You record and film everything?

We do. Everyone who performs or presents is recorded and filmed. We have an intimidating release form — but have no intention of screwing over anybody, ever. The release is meant to cover everyone’s butts (yours included) by spelling out everything as completely as possible — even stuff that’s almost certainly never going to happen in a million years. You’ll need to sign one before you take the stage.

We’re not a professional service, however. If you want pristine audio or feature-film video, you need to book time in a professional recording studio or with a professional video service. Those places will have way better gear than we can afford. Which you’ll pay for, along with their labor and expertise, as is right and proper.

We believe that decentish documentation of a great performance is better than fabulous documentation of a just-OK performance. And we know that the media will never replace being in the room… but showing people what they’re missing is probably the best way to inspire them to start going to live shows. Also, non-cellphone performance videos can help land other, bigger, better bookings. Our intention is that the two things should support each other, the live part and the documentation part.

We’ll eventually be using the recorded material in broadcast programming that we’re hoping will ultimately get picked up by the regional public TV and radio. In the meantime, we’re posting on YouTube.

We document without much interference — but we want everyone to shine, so we may stage-mom just a little. No stress. Come prepared, but have fun. Do the hell out of the thing. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and rewarding and fulfilling.

Sometimes a performance won’t get used for a variety of reasons.

Performers can use the audio and video we produce in any way they see fit, including monetizing it.

 

Be cool, honey bunny!

No whining, K?

By our reckoning, this applies to fewer than three out of a hundred performers, so chances are excellent you’re not one of them.

Ever work a free gig for a cause or as a favor, but then somebody kinda sucks the air out of it? They’re probably not a jerk, they’re just invested in wanting the thing to be the best thing they think the thing can be — by telling you after you get there that you have to play something other than your planned repertoire, or surprising you with the news that you’re the accompanist for their tone-deaf cousin for the evening, or changing their mind about which side of the room you should be in after you’ve set up, or expecting you to also bartend, bus tables, and sweep up after the show.

The good news is that we’re never gonna do any of that kind of stuff to you.

But here’s the thing: We’re the ones working the free gig, and you’re the cause we’re supporting.

Our intention is to contribute — to the best of our ability and judgment, and within our equipment’s limitations and our own, and within the bounds of reason, sanity, and self-preservation — to the ascendancy of your arc. We make production decisions with the documentation that are intended to enhance, and sometimes to compensate. If there’s a major problem we definitely want to hear about it — but remember, we’re not getting paid for the thousands of hours we work on behalf of the dozens of performers and presenters we host each season. Bespoke tweaking isn’t on the menu because it just can’t be.

Business-minded people scold us for not charging folks and for giving the store away. There’s no denying that it’s a lousy business model… but we’re not running a business. It’s a mission, and we think it’s worthy. We do have limits though.

It never leaves the top of our heads that we’re being honored with your trust. If we think a performance doesn’t seem to be at least par, we won’t use it. And if you think a performance doesn’t reflect well on you, let us know and it’s 99.9% likely that we’ll bury it. (Many artists are their own worst critic. That can be a good thing, but can also get to the point where it becomes their own worst enemy. Perhaps we’re biased, but we feel that — within limits — an imperfect but energetic and heartfelt performance is better than one that’s impeccable but soulless.)

We make everyone sound and look as good as we can, aiming for a balance that works on everything from wee cellphones to kickass stereos, and for audiences ranging from just-the-facts festival bookers to the far larger pool of casual viewers who will hopefully buy your music or go see you play live if we can keep them watching and listening long enough. It’s tricky, and elusive, and a lot to juggle. We’ll always give weight to your concerns and thoughts though. If something is really bugging you, we definitely want to know.

So here we all are on the road to hell together, you and us, humans trying to do what’s good and right and affirming despite our frailties and shortcomings.

 

 

If all the preceding sounds OK and we have an open date that looks tasty, drop an email to stage33@stage33live.com — the more info the better, including links. And we’re happy to answer any questions.

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Run and done by volunteers, stem to stern.
Donations are what keep this thing going.
We squeeze every penny,
and we'd be so happy to squeeze yours. Or drop off cash / checks at any event.
You can surface-mail checks to:
Stage 33 Live (admin)
8-A Atkinson St
Bellows Falls VT 05101

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Stage 33 Live LTD is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, EIN 82-2349941.



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VENUE:
33 Bridge Street
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8A Atkinson St
Bellows Falls VT 05101