Owner: Russ Kanser
Established: August, 2010
Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Russ Kanser, owner of Kanserous Productions.
How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived in the area all of my life. I was born in Oneonta, and grew up in Morris. I moved to Oneonta two years ago and still live here.
Tell me about your business:
Our goal at Kanserous Productions has always been to re-kindle the once strong-music scene of younger generations in Oneonta. From my perspective, Oneonta is a college-driven bar town with limited activities geared toward people growing up around the area. What we are doing is bringing shows for all ages to venues like the Oneonta Moose Lodge and the Oneonta Theatre _ not just for entertainment, but also a place for younger local musicians to get out there and play with some bigger regional bands in the metal genre.
How did you get started in this line of work?
I have been involved in music for eight years, playing bass for the rock band "Contraband." Two years ago, I linked up with Mike Joubert of "Fat Mike's Dirty Dogs" (which was on Main Street in Oneonta until recently). Mike was booking bands to play in his restarunt on the weekends, and I ended up doing live sound for him as well as playing in Contraband at a few of the shows. Mike and I came up with the idea of throwing a weekend long festival at the end of the year, showcasing the bands that had played in his resteraunt. "DirtyFest" was born. After "DirtyFest 2010," Kanserous Productions was created. March 2011 rolled around and my friend Parker Dunne hired me to run live sound for a show at Billiards on Chestnut Street. It reminded me of the energetic atmosphere of shows that I loved and Kanserous Productions has been putting on shows ever since.
Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:
The most memorable moment would have to be the day Geoff Doyle called me saying, "Tom Cormier, owner of the Oneonta Theatre just called me. He has noticed the work you are doing in the music community in the area and wants to incorporate your genre into the Oneonta Theatre. Tom said, 'It seems like KP would be hard to compete with in the metal genre, so I would like to team up and work together.'" I will never forget thinking, "I can't believe the owner of one of the largest venues in the area is trying to get a hold of ME!"
What have you learned from your work?
More is not always better. I have a tendency to want to go over the top, which almost ended my desire to continue in this line of work with the first "DirtyFest" _ wracking up a whopping $2,000-plus in debt. Since then, we do almost everything in-house _ sound, lighting, staff, security, web-design, video production. Most recently I learned that I do not have to do everything on my own. A lot of people are stepping up to help out and I cannot thank them enough.
What is the most enjoyable part of what you do?
When the soundcheck is finished and the first band begins to play, a massive feeling of "ahhhh, this is why I do what I do" comes over me. It is great to see everyone coming together for a common cause, and having a great time.
What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?
One advantage of doing business here is the huge music scene in the area. It seems that one out of every three people is involved in music in one way or another. All of the people who attend our shows are very loyal and religiously buy the touring bands merchandise to help support them. Being a smaller city helps also because word travels fast.
On the flip side, one drawback is the population. Only a small percentage of the population listens to the types of music I book at my shows. Also, the word "metal" seems to have a very negative association in the community. When working on the first "DirtyFest _ Metal Festival," I was contacted by the town board telling me that over 100 locals called in protest of the festival. He said that if I were hosting a Country music festival chances are I would have no problems. I am not sure why people feel this way. We run a tight ship at our shows _ the Oneonta Moose Lodge constantly comments on how well-mannered and polite our patrons are.
What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?
Build a strong network of support. This business can get ugly _ greedy managers, rowdy bands, etc. On top of that, people in the industry may not even read your email unless you "know someone who knows someone." It can be very frustrating. I currently work with a lot of local and regional promoters, and we all watch each others backs. My best advice of all, do not give up.
Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Cassandra Miller. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 255, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.