To say that Sarah Saturday is a work-a-holic is the understatement of the year. She is the founder of www.earnityourself.com, runs The Kevin Says Stage on Warped Tour, has her own design company, gives out advice over at Buzznet.com AND has her own band. What have you done today?
Can you please introduce yourself and describe your various roles within the music industry (warped tour, earn it yourself, etc)?
So, my name is Sarah Saturday and I run a consulting company called Sarah Saturday Consulting Inc. and under that I run a design firm called The
Weekend Group and we do websites and online marketing for tasteofchaos.com, mayhemfest.com, kevinsaystage.com and we build sites for little bands and labels and whatever. That’s my main day job. For the Kevin Says Stage on Warped Tour, I do all of the online marketing and promotion. For the last 5 years, I’ve been running the application process for that stage with Kevin picking unsigned bands to play the stage and building the stage up. This year, it is the first year we have 98% signed bands. So, what I did, because I only really care about the unsigned bands, is I am sponsoring the stage with my website, earnityourself.com, and so through earnityourself.com, I will be booking one band per day on the Kevin Says Stage to represent the unsigned bands. So, that is my involvement with Warped Tour and The Kevin Says Stage. Earn It Yourself is the website I started, I guess we launched in 2006, and my partners are Ernst Schoen-Rene from Book Your Own Fucking Life and Wyatt Glodell who is my partner from the Weekend Group. We’ve just been rolling that out the past couple of years.
Okay..I gotta ask this question before we start. Where did the name “Sarah Saturday” come from?
(laughs) Okay, well I am originally a musician and still a musician just not full time but I got into the music industry because I started playing music when I was 14 and eventually dropped out of college, quit my job, and did the whole DIY, you know, in the band thing for a few years before I moved out to California. So playing in bands you play around with stage names and you don’t really want to use your real last name so I always had stage names and stuff. Then my band, Saving Face in Wisconsin was on hiatus, and I was going on the road with this band from Los Angeles called The Start and I wanted to have a more serious stage name. So I was asking my mom to help me, and she had a friend whose daughter whose name was Sarah and her middle name was Saturday and it was from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and so we were like “Sarah Saturday would be rad.” So I took that name, started touring with this band, met Kevin Lyman and everybody out here as Sarah Saturday so when I moved out here that is all anybody knew me as. So long story short, my first summer on Warped Tour I met the Bouncing Souls, loved those guys, got along great with them and they loved the name Sarah Saturday and Brian said he was going to write a song with my name in it. So a year or two later he said he wrote the song, it’s gonna be on the new album, it’s called Sarah Saturday and I was like “no way!” So I legally changed my name, I was always planning on changing it, but when I heard the song was coming out I filed the papers. I wanted to be like “yeah, there it is. That really is my name.”
What is the story behind earnityourself.com? How did it get started? Has it been successful?
The Earn It Yourself thing came from me being in all these bands, dropping out of college, I was managing my band full-time and booking and I loved it. I loved the whole ethos of doing it yourself and going out and making it happen and not waiting around for anyone to help you out. But in the back of my mind I assumed you should just work really hard and do things yourself until the point where you can’t do them anymore and then you might need to hire people. I always kind of thought that was okay but the more I got into the DIY scene, at least where I was from, I kind of started realizing it put a cap on what you were with the length you were supposed to go with your band. As my band got bigger and bigger because I was working my ass off, booking all this stuff and doing everything DIY style, we kind of started to get some negative feedback from other people in the DIY scene like calling us sell outs and “we were in it just to get famous” or “just for money” or whatever and it was just kind of upsetting and I thought I was doing it right and doing a good job. On one of the last tours that I had booked with Saving Face we had kind of been called “sell outs” because we opened for Good Charlotte and Something Corporate. We just signed to a real DIY label and we started to get endorsements and I was really bummed at the people that were turning their backs on us and I’m in the band thinking, “How can there be a philosphy that incorporated the DIY ethos and the work ethic and the mentallity and the approach but allowed a band to name their own goal and decide “hey this is far as I want to go” and as long as I’m doing it the right way it should be okay that I go that far. That was 2003 and I started talking to people about DIY and EIY and then I moved out here and made a printzine, EIY zine- I only made two issues but I interviewed Matt from Taking Back Sunday for one of the issues and my friend Chris who runs a booking agency and it was really fun and cool. People were ordering it online and stuff but I needed this to go to the next level. I really wanted to push this philosophy and promote it and I also wanted to offer bands booking help and networking tools and things like that. 2005 or 2006 I called Book Your Own Fucking Life and I was like, “You don’t know me but I think your site would be a great sister site for this thing I’m trying to launch and we could get together and dominate the DIY underground world.” So I brought Wyatt on board and what is now earnityourself.com and it was been a huge undertaking. Way bigger than we thought it would be and the three of us all work for free so that’s hard because it is easily a $100,000 site just with programming and no funding, no backing, no one helping out. People are starting to help out but it has been a DIY project, literally. We are hoping to form a strong network of bands that have the DIY philosophy and are working really hard, bringing out kids to shows and be self sufficient and help keep each other true to their values. I really want it to be a “family” who need that emotional or inspirational boost who are working hard and they see these crappy bands by pass them at 100 MPH. I just want them to know they are doing it the right way and these bands will be gone in 6 months.
Can you tell me some information about your music consulting and and design company, The Weekend Group?
Yeah um, it is actually Sarah Saturday Consulting is the name of the actually company and that I just started because I can do a lot with that. I would like to start consulting bands and helping bands just with business plans. Companies will ask me to sit with them for a few hours and figure out a marketing plan or a strategy for online promotion. This is stuff that I figured out just doing online marketing with my own band. Everything that I know I learned from my hands-on, DIY approach in my band. It’s just teaching bands and companies the best way to get their name out there. But The Weekend Group does website design and I have a bunch of really rad programmers and designers who build amazing websites. We build the sites and then help manage them and do online marketing. Right now, we are working on the Taste of Chaos tour. We have the tour, contests, street teams and e-mail list and all kinds of stuff going on with that. We just launched Mayhem Festival mini website plus the kevingsaysstage.com and also MacBeth shows is really fun for us. It’s a clothing line with cool shoes and cool people and a really good scene in Orange County. Part of what I wanted to do with this company was offer cheap website design to bands because I think it’s really important for bands to control their own data and control their own website and not just rely on MySpace or whatever to get information out to their fans. They should have their own e-mail list, their own place on the internet where people can find them.
On top of running earnityourself.com and The Weekend Group, you are also the booking manager for the Kevin Says Stage on Warped Tour. How did that all come together?
I think I was just in the right place at the right time or destiny or whatever it is..I just met Kevin in the one month I was in LA. Because I wasn’t doing anything I was like, “Hey Kevin, I’d like to come into your office for a few days and volunteer my time cause I’m sitting around doing nothing.” I came in for two days and during those two days we got submissions from little unsigned bands that wanted to play the tour and at that time The Kevin Says Stage was just “showing up”- like “Hey Kevin said we could play.” And they didn’t know where to put these bands so they made up this stage where he said they could play. So it was kind of like a joke and just whatever. That was my first thing with Kevin. When Kevin offered me the job in 2004 and I went on the road with Warped Tour, I was working in production and I just kind of became the dumping ground for those bands that would show up. They would find their way to the production office and I started organizing them. After that summer, I talked to Kevin about really organizing these bands-lets take applications ahead of time and pick bands on a certain set of criteria-bands that are hard working and are gonna work hard to promote their shows. We started doing applications for the 2005 tour and from there just started filling dates. We started to get sponsors like Hot Topic and the stage just grew and grew. I kept working with Kevin because the stage was like “my baby.” That’s still my involvement and my focus is just bringing the unsigned bands out and get people to say, “Hey these bands kick ass!”
Were you always aware that you wanted to be involved with music somehow or did you have different plans at one point?
Well when I joined my first band at 16, it was my whole life. I hung out with the guys all day, we practiced whenever we could, and we played shows whenever we could. I loved it but I remember having to be realistic and like, you know, I wasn’t a rock star when I graduated high school so I needed to figure out college and figure out what my plan would be. I started to take creative writing and bounced around from school to school but it never really stuck with me and meanwhile, I was still consumed by the band. So I think it has always been a part of me to always want to be a part of playing music, and that’s how I got involved in the music industry. I was so passionate about playing music but I started to realize I was good at the business side, too. I really liked it. It’s always kind of been a moral dilemma for me because I’m an artist at heart but I’m also a business person. It’s kind of like it chose me I guess. I switched to the business side but I’m finally starting to get back into playing music and it’s all coming back to me. I think it’s just always been a part of my personality.
Besides being directly involved with the music industry, you are also involved in your own band Gardening Not Architecture. Can you provide some information about the band?
When my other band broke up, I was upset. I don’t want to say it was a depression, but it was a really big deal for me. So I went through a few years of not writing and I didn’t even want to think about the band. But after a few years, I started writing again and I was like, “I just want to do this for fun.” I started recording some songs and the songs were really cool. I wanted to record better versions, so in 2007 I was home and started recording with my friend Beau Sorenson who is a great engineer. We recorded 4 songs and I just loved them. Started playing for my friends and there was no pressure. It was the best feeling to just say, “I don’t want anything from you. I just want you to hear my songs.” I was excited for people to hear them and the reactions were really positive. It kept building and building and there were kids in Florida who had heard the songs and making them into ringtones. People really liked my stuff and they kept telling me that I needed to tour so in 2008 I said “screw it. I’ll just put a little band together and play some shows.” With the recession and the overall vibe of the music industry, I was in a good place. I want to focus on Earn It Yourself but I want to be living the Earn It Yourself thing as a musician. Like right now, I’m booking a west coast tour for Gardening Not Architecture. We’ve been booking it and I’ve been using EIY. The idea with Gardening Not Architecture is just to have fun, go on tour, see what happens, no pressure. I’ve got a job, I’ve got stuff that I’m doing and I don’t expect anything from it. It just feels good to be playing shows and planning things.
There is no doubt that you are involved with a lot-Warped Tour, running multiple websites, and your own band. How are you able to balance all of these careers? What does a typical day for you look like?
A typical day..(laughs). It was really crazy last year. I had way to much work and I had a couple of assisstants. I cut way back on some work but I’m still a work-a-holic and I always have been. I come into my office and I just go. I’ve been sitting here since I don’t even know what time and I’ll probably in my office until at least 11 o clock tonight. Then I’ll probably take my computer to bed and probably work on booking shows or whatever..It’s just nonstop. I’m not a big partier really. I try and go out to shows and go out to dinner with my friends. But I really just spend as much time as I can working on stuff. It’s like A.D.D. Right now, I have like ten windows open and six IM windows open and three different lists of things I want to do. It’s just kind of craziness.
With all these projects going on at once, there is no doubt that you have the motivation, the dedication and the work ethic to handle of these activities, have you always had this hard working personality?
I was always goal oriented. Like in high school I wasn’t doing drugs or whatever. I would rather be writing or painting or booking shows. I wanted to utilize my time for productive things. It was just more fun for me. It may be genetic, I don’t know. I didn’t really realize this is how I was until college and I read this book called Atlas Shrugged. It’s a really controversial book for some people because the author develops this philosophy that gets a bad rep sometimes. It was really inspiring for me cause it put into words how I felt about myself and the people around me. Basically after reading it, I went into this whole other “realm” of productive, goal oriented work. It had a huge impact on me and it made me want to be productive and do something meaningful with my life.
Among all your projects, what are you most busy with right now?
I try to split up my time equally because I do have obligations, you know? I have clients that are paying me so I try and spend most of the work day Taste of Chaos duties and other multiple websites. Put in my full 8 hours of client oritented stuff so I can pay the bills. My heart and my passion is Earn It Yourself. That is what I am most excited about. I’m also busy with my advice column on Buzznet.com and I’m launching www.sarahsaturday.com. I’m also gonna be selling artwork and clothes through that site. It’s just like an outlet for me and I’ll be able to promote everything.
What advice do you have for people who want to get into the music industry?
I actually have written a bunch of stuff on the site about this. Like for me, I wanted to do this thing and I’m gonna figure out how to do it. I don’t know if that is crappy advice to give or not, but the only thing I can say is be creative. Use what you have around you. If you want to be in a band, talk to your friends and see if they want to be in a band too. If you want to do merch or manage, start working with local bands or your local venue. Try to book a tour for a friends bands. Trial and error stuff is the fastest way to figure out what you are good at and what you want to do. My best advice is just start with short term goals. Offer to help local bands and friends and venues. Talk to everyone you know and make a plan. If the plan fails, try something else. Just keep making new plans even if it fails. I think a lot of people need to sit around and wait. The most successful people I know in the industry said, “I want to get to point A. This is the best way to do it. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try another way.” Someone once said to one of my old bands, and this is a good one, “start with your goals and work backwards.” If you want to be signed to a record label, what are they looking for? They are looking for a band with some “buzz” around them. How do you get that “buzz”? Start playing shows and promoting your band–just work backwards.
To wrap things up, do you have any last words for our readers? Any advice or comments?
The biggest overall message, for me, is just to have a philsophy in your life. People don’t really think about philosophy anymore. If I could do anything, it would be to get the message out to people to make concious decisions all day long. Think about what they are doing, why they are doing it, what it means to them, and why people believe what they do. I think the world would be a better place if we knew what our philosophy was and made concious decisions. Don’t float around waiting for someone else to come figure it out for you. You are living a meaningless life and you don’t know what you stand for. I ultimately just want people to make more concious, thoughtful decisions.
Thank you Sarah for spending a good hour on the phone answering these questions and Dean for setting up this interview.