How are Texas Sounds nominees selected?
Nominations for Texas Sounds are usually initiated by one of East Texas Performing Arts Board members. We scour the web, listening to posted music from around the world. Most nominees are found on sites such as REVERBNATION, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Facebook. We qualify our selections by researching their websites, online reviews, and listening to all their available music online.
What criteria do you consider in making a nomination?
We look for musicians who perform Country music or a related genre (Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, etc.) or derivative thereof (Country Rock, Modern Country, Rockabilly, etc.). We look for music that we think American audiences will enjoy and for musicians who are famous in their own nation or who have the potential to become famous.
Can anyone else nominate a musician or band?
Musicians can ask to be reviewed for nomination. Any musician wanting to be reviewed should be reasonably certain that they can travel and participate for the duration of our event. We will follow up and look/listen to any musician who wants to be considered. We do not consider recommendations made by fans, friends, or families of musicians.
Submit an email message to Texas Sound’s producer or use Facebook Messenger.
What are the financial arrangements for musicians who participate?
All musicians perform only for the chance to win an award title and trophy. There is no monetary compensation for participating. Awards are custom wall hanging plaques that have little or no intrinsic monetary value. Musicians are responsible for all their own expenses including travel, lodging, and all associated expenses.
We have compiled questions that participating musicians have asked. The following may be helpful for nominees.
Who produces Texas Sounds?
Texas Sounds is an outgrowth of East Texas Performing Arts, Inc. (ETPA), a 501c3 nonprofit organization EastTexasPerformingArts.org. ETPA has produced live stage plays and musical concerts in Jefferson, Texas since 2011. The organization is entirely volunteer based. No one receives a salary, wage, honorarium, or stipend. Funds raised by Texas Sounds fund ETPA, productions and outreach programs such as classes in acting, public speaking, and expressive movement. Classes are offered for children, youth, and adults.
Can you please suggest the approximate cost for accommodation?
Price range for rooms in town is usually from $89 – $199 per night double occupancy. Lodging options are listed and detailed at Jefferson-Texas.com/lodging or Visitjeffersontexas.com/lodging
Texas Sounds is a 3-day event. Would we need to be in Jefferson the entire 3 days??
Competitive performances are Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3. On Thursday, November 1, we have several local excursions to which all nominees are invited. The day before this all starts, Wednesday, October 31, we host an evening welcome party for all musicians and their travel companions. Nominees meet each other and our local supporters. There is food, drink, and MUSIC! We encourage everyone to spend as much time in Jefferson as possible. I strongly suggest coming at least a day early and staying a day after the event. There is a lot to see and do in Jefferson and local residents enjoy socializing and entertaining our visiting musicians. Many of our award winners will preform a second time on Sunday during the awards presentations.
Do artists perform original music or covers or both?
This is entirely up to you. My preference is a mix, something familiar that the audience already loves and some original music to show who you really are as an artist.
We might require a band to back us (way too expensive to fly full band over!) – is there a cost for this?
Remarkably, most acts do arrive en masse! If your band cannot travel, you can perform as a solo acts, or bring just one musician to accompany you, or bring recorded tracks. Although full bands seem to have an easier time engaging the audience, we have had several solo/duo award winners. If you decide to perform with prerecorded tracks you should be aware that our judges will make every effort to evaluate your performance solely on you, discounting any harmonies or effects that might exist on the tracks. It has been our experience that this actually creates a slight disadvantage because judges err on the conservative side rather than risking giving an undeserved advantage.
How many prizes are going to be awarded and what are the prizes?
Prizes are trophies and titles, no cash, no items of monetary value. These are custom designed, Texas themed, impressive wall mount trophies. This year we plan to give 12 awards (we expect 18 to 25 acts to compete).
What is the age of the artists – sometimes here at home, unless you are over 25 years, you are not even considered!
Our first year we nominated two performers who were under 20 years old. Although one proved to be talented and really a pretty good kid, I was sorely reminded of why teenagers are so hard to live with. I half jokingly promised that no one under 35 would ever again be considered. In practice, we are looking for adults. I want people who are able to work with other professionals, not children who don’t know how to pick up their own candy wrappers. Age does not matter. In 2017 we will have musicians as young as 22 and some older than your parents.
Is there an opportunity to sell albums & merchandise?
Yes. Send your music and merchandise well ahead of the event (preferably 8 – 10 weeks ahead). If you try to bring merchandise into the country it will probably be confiscated by Customs officials at the port of entry. We provide a table to display your stuff. A volunteer will be in charge of the table so that you are free to enjoy the event. Your merchandise can be available for purchase at all times during the event.
Will we have to pay to attend other musicians’ performances?
No. All performers, their traveling companions, and entourages have full access to all four nights of music.
What port of entry and destination airports do you suggest – I’m guessing a rental car would be required?
Depending upon your point of origin and airline prices, you may decide to enter the U.S. through a coastal airport of fly directly to a destination airport. Some enter through New York or Los Angeles. Most fly into Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) or Houston International (IAH). This can be your port of entry or final destination after a flight change. Some performers have found affordable flights that got them all the way to Shreveport, LA (SHV). Shreveport is only 45 minutes from Jefferson. DFW is 3+ hours away from us. Houston is 4+ hours. In all cases, you will need a rental car.
Visas are expensive. Can you help?
We have learned that most nations require a sizable payment for a travel visa for paid performances. That is one of many reasons we don’t pay our performers. Your official invitation will state that you are coming to participate in a contest, for no pay. You are donating your travel and performance to our nonprofit organization for the purpose of benefiting performing arts in Texas. This invitation should eliminate the cost of a work visa. Bring your printed invitation letter with you. It can help prevent real troubles at your port of entry. If you do secure additional gigs for pay, you may work that out with your government in any way you wish. When applying for travel visas be sure to point out that you are performing FREE. Officials will initially insist that you pay for a work visa. They have trouble believing that you will travel internationally for no pay. You are donating your performance to a federally registered charitable nonprofit organization. Your invitation letter should allow you to obtain a visa at little or no cost. According to our State Department, you should apply for a B1/B2 visa. This is a combination business and tourism visa. The fact that you are a professional musician and are bringing instruments does not obligate you to purchase a P1/P2 (work) visa. Your invitation states that you are donating your performance. You are not being paid. Therefore, you do not need a P-class visa.
Cost for this trip will be high. How do bands afford to come to Texas Sounds?
We strongly suggest that you make this a BIG buildup for the event. One way to make a big publicity splash is to promote this as a great international honor. You can cure financial worries with the same effort. Launch a fundraising campaign for trip expenses. You will find that your fans and supporters will buy into the idea of sending you off to the American South to bring home a Texas award. Not only will they support you financially, they will do so with such enthusiasm that they become lifelong supporters. Donors feel that they are partially responsible for your success and they will love you forever. Fundraising concerts, merchandise auctions, and silent auctions for private concerts are all viable fundraisers. Even your local government or performing arts association might support your trip. One way to raise funds and market your own celebrity is crowdfunding through sites such as kickstarter.com, buyaband.com, gofundme.com, or any of dozens of others. You will be amazed at how much such campaigns can boost your popularity. If you decide to do a crowdfunding campaign, give me all the information. I will share it with my email list and social media contacts.
It is difficult to travel with instruments. What can you provide?
We can provide guitar amps, bass kit, standup double bass, electric bass, and drums. We provide some cymbals, but many bands prefer to bring their own cymbals.