Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flyers are Illegal in Boston

Dear Boston,
I thought you were cool. Graffiti and posters nowadays are mostly art. Sure, if someone is going around spray painting penises on buildings, by all means give them a fine (read notice from The Middle East below). But real graffiti actually improves the atmosphere, culture and arguably value of a city. Not only are posters art, but are vital (although not quite viral) to the promotion and well-being of artists. I say, no taxation without representation. For a city populated by high numbers of students and artists, there sure are a lot of laws that make it hard on said demographics (see also: bans on 18- in venues). WORST of all, you are now depriving me of my favorite means of decorating my apartment. FOR SHAME. They should just go ahead and ban fun, merriment and tomfoolery while they're at it. I thought you were cool (shakes head in defeat and cries one single tear).

Mango Nebula

P.S. ::

Another interesting implication of this is our constantly digitizing world and its effect on the music industry and promotions. It's a theme that keeps popping up as I've recently seen many friends go on tirades about things like ebooks. The music industry is really good fodder for observing the effect of the digital world, as they were it's first victims. I can't even fathom a time when the only means of promotion was concert flyers. Or the only was to find out about a show was through said rectangles. The Middle East says they offer a "digital workflow" now, which isn't really anything new. But, imagine a world where no one makes posters any more, except $50 screen prints to sell at Newbury Comics. I do like their grass roots suggestion of handing out quarter pages with the info. It's something that I've seen at the Whitehaus a lot and have used myself to promote shows. It's classy.

Angry letter in response to this from the Middle East and friends ::

December 16, 2010
All Bands
Playing The Middle East & ZuZu
in the Near Future
Any Town, MA 02139

Dear Bands,

As of today, until further review, The Middle East Nightclub’s official stance on posting flyers is this: We do not in any way endorse or encourage the posting of bills anywhere in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Any posting of bills with “Middle East Upstairs, Middle East Downstairs, ZuZu, Middle East Nightclub, Middle East Club” or any variation thereof are not sanctioned, nor deemed necessary, by the Middle East Nightclub.

The Middle East Nightclub promotion has moved to a digital set up. Online marketing and social media outlets (,, ticket links on & many more) are to be the focus of promotion for your shows.

Why are we making such move? Fines. Hefty fines. Fines that we accept no responsibility for. Fines that will be charged to any band or promoter cited by law enforcement. Fines that will keep your band from being booked at the Middle East. Fines that could pay for your space rental for a month. Fines that could buy a nice guitar. Fines that could pay rent at your apartment.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts deems your show flyers as graffiti. That stinks. There’s some beautiful art being created on your flyers! Cambridge has it’s own strict subset of these laws. Your community does, too (We’re looking at you, Allston!). Recent citations are not less than $300 per violation. If you put up two of the same flyer in the same neighborhood, that equals $600. Law enforcement must stop there, right? No. Fines are per instance. Imagine having to pay $1500 for 5 flyers! That, sadly, could be you.

What can you do? Reach out to me, I’ll give you a digital workflow to promote your show. It works. Send me a .jpg of that flyer, I’ll get it on our web properties. Get us 4-6 nice 11x17 flyers to hang up on our walls, they are pretty! Color or black and white. No reason to print 1000 of these. Just a couple for us and one for your practice space wall. Make a hundred or so 1/4 page flyers. I can help you set that up and you’ll know how for life! Spark a conversation, shake a hand, get a phone number and hand them one of these little guys. Making friends is awesome. Making enemies of city officials and venues is not quite as awesome (not awesome at all).

Sincerely yours,
Clay Fernald

Middle East Nightclub and ZuZu Publicity

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