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Posts posted by lcarlton

  1. The corps is entertaining, educational, and exciting for all, as we prepare for our return to the field recruiting for all sections!

    Many new staff from various DCI, and WGI ensembles like Rhythm X, Crossmen, and Glassmen, as well as local band directors, and HBCU alumni from Central State, Talladega College and more.

    Numerous scholarships are available to aid in reducing our low $400 tuition further, and we encourage all people young and old to get on the field as the corps gets down with some Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown and more! The corps is on the move embracing their identity as performers or funk, soul, swing, and hip-hop on the field!

    Learn more & Register: http://columbussaints.org/drumcorps 



    • Like 1
  2. 1 hour ago, Poppycock said:

    Ignored - considering how many drum corps were from those areas at one time - hardly! today it’s a microcosm of society and those organizations will never return.   

    Didn’t your equipment and uniforms get stolen? Needed GoFundMe and other donations to even make it on the field last season, yet had a surplus of additional uniforms and equipment to give away to other programs. Interesting 🧐 

    The Bud Billiken Parade - aka it’s time to go back to school in Chicago parade. Your vision is admirable but not very realistic. Best of luck and future success  


    The community center started a drum corps last year called the Chicago Hornets and participated in DCI Soundsport, using the uniforms we donated with many of the alumni of the former corps St Andrew's Hornets.

    We've never run a GoFundMe, but we did run a campaign to replace items that were stolen. We raised $4K in March which went towards rental trucks to move gear, renting front ensemble equipment, and after recovering the trailer and equipment repairing the damaged instruments. We finished the season without any issues and the equipment fundraiser merely replaced our regular fundraiser. 

    The uniforms were donated by Lake Erie Regiment to Erie Thunderbirds who then donated them to us. Since we are often a catch all for donated equipment which we donate to local schools, community centers etc we accepted and donated the uniforms the Soundsport team Hornets. We also donated a set of uniforms from Mount Vernon HS in Ohio we received for free, to a Drum line in Milwaukee on tour. Our current uniforms were also donated to us from Newark HS in Ohio. We've also donated uniforms to other organizations like the former Soundsport team Horizon in Texas. We recently just donated instruments and uniforms to Columbus City Schools including student trumpets, bongos, timbales, helmets, a Spanish student guitar, bell kits, uniforms, Aussie hats and shakos. 

    The Bud Biliken Parade takes place the weekend of DCI World Championships, nearly three weeks before the end of our season. We feel that instead of doing nothing, if we can find another host it would be worthwhile exploring attending a community outreach opportunity. 


    Thank you for the support! We've been going strong for nearly 20 years and while the corps travels less than the drum line and drill team, we are happy to be able to offer expanded programs. 

  3. On 2/18/2020 at 12:16 PM, Poppycock said:

    Received an explanation, but my question wasn’t answered as to why anyone thought it was a good business decision to knowingly lose money instead of making a profit then brag about saving 3k because of the decision made. That’s the deal sweetie! 

    The primary reason we went to Whitewater and Racine was because originally it was the only SoundSport show in early July after the Bowling Green show ended in 2016. We continued going in 2017-2019 for outreach, community relations, and to allow for an early season read of the show before heading to SoundSport, then DCA shows. From a financial perspective we got to perform at 2-3 shows ; on the field with a full judges tapes and the ability to make $300-500 in souvenirs; for the price we'd pay for exhibition and tickets for 2 DCI shows as an exhibition corps while not being able to sell souvies.

    Additionally, each year we had the opportunity to partner with local programs; bring the drum corps activity to ignored communities in Chicago and Milwaukee while also having the privilege of being able to donate uniforms, and other equipment to programs. In the grand scheme of competitive drum corps; it doesn't make sense. In the scheme of drum corps being a community activity and it being important to our values to invest, develop, and build a community through music - it's priceless. As such we are discussing plans for returning to Chicago in the coming years to participate in the Bud Biliken Parade and hold a clinic. 

    Here is an article detailing our Chicago outreach during our 2017 MACBDA tour.https://www.columbussaints.org/saints-hold-community-event-west-side-chicago/


    Here is a video announcing the tour kickoff and more: 


    • Like 1
  4. On 2/15/2020 at 9:34 AM, Poppycock said:

    Share with me and help me understand why it was a good business decision to travel to Wisconsin via Chicago from Columbus to do exhibitions in MACBDA for free? 

    1.) Consistently corps travel to shows at a loss because the payout is not enough to cover travel. Whether it be a DCI or DCA show, if you get a bus the payout for corps will not cover the transportation costs to get to the show. As such, most corps that provide travel will be operating at a loss of revenue greater than what they'd make at the show. The difference is they get a score so I guess that's fine in your eyes. The corps went to a June DCA show last year six hours away at a net loss of $1K - but we got an early season score.

    2.) Community outreach is very important to the Saints and has been since our founding. While the organization is smaller and travels significantly less than it did 10 years ago, visiting Chicago has been a consistent experience as it's strong for community building and sharing the activity in under served urban areas. We are discussing with a local military school on returning to Chicago in the coming years to visit the West Side and South Side again, potentially marching in the Bud Buliken Parade.

    3.) The Saints were members of MACBDA from 2017-2019 receiving a score for their performances. In 2016, the Saints traveled to Wisconsin for the MACBDA SoundSport event along with Lakeshoremen from Michigan. Shadow participates in exhibition as has a few other corps like Pioneer in the past. 

    I hope this answers your outstanding questions.


    Good Day

  5. 17 hours ago, Poppycock said:

    So you figured out that your organization is not a band from Wisconsin and that saved 3k! Okay fine! 

    Not quite, MACBDA isn't just bands from Wisconsin, it also has units from Canada and other drum corps like Shadow participating still in exhibition.

    The larger issue was around the loss of our Chicago lodging relationship that made travel more difficult and doubled the cost. 

    • Like 1
  6. 10 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:

    easy. DCi has full time employees that do marketing. I never see DCA's marketing directors name on anything but the DCA website. Now I have heard in the past mini corps tried to get into shows, and the rumor was something about wanting a lot of money to do it. I dont know how DCi structures it for paying those groups, if at all, but remember at least for competing corps, DCi has a set policy on paying corps. DCA is an every corps negotiates their own deal approach, so hosts can be strapped, as they aren't drawing the same sized crowds DCi regular season shows are. of any of the current DCA regular season shows sites still going I have been to, none hold over 2500 fans

    I mean DCI has a few full-time marketers, but they also lean pretty on interns. I've been pretty close to some of the team running it, and a lot of it doesn't require full-time staff. Especially with so many templates, and tools; along with heavy desire for interns to work with the organization they are able to scale up each year with paid staff, and interns along with leveraging things like DCI Ambassadors in the past. I'm not really talking about anything close to that; I mean literally something like what DCI does; get a corps director to take over marketing and then build a team around it. Hell, just build a team of volunteers - I'd do it for free and now lots of folks that would - including one who marched DCA, and WGI and owns a video production company.

    I know DCI does pay World Class, not sure about OC. It was a hot topic at the last director's meeting I attended. In some cases I know some All-Age Corps can get paid at DCI shows. It varies for SoundSport groups on if there is a participation fee etc, and sometimes the host will provide lodging and rehearsal space to make it easier. I just don't get it.

    • Like 1
  7. 21 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:

    sadly few want to take the time to grow. Why? Well DCA for example only wants to see or hear soundsport or mini corps style finals weekend. going soundsport gets you far more exposure if you venture to Indy than Friday night at DCA.

    That's what's so weird about the whole thing. You can do SoundSport; not even go to Indy just do Regionals or local shows and people regularly show up a little early to see them, plus the crowds are typically the same if not bigger than most DCA shows. DCI will also generally promote you, or aggregate your content more-so than DCA does.

    The argument is "fans and show sponsors don't want small corps" but then why is it that DCI has found a way to make it work and many units find a benefit to it? I don't understand it... it seems like it's being difficult for the sake of being difficult all the while not doing ANYTHING to foster new corps in the DCA circuit. So... ok you don't want small corps; then what's your plan for helping develop new corps to sustain the circuit? It's why when a lot of the new rules submitted at the last Congress got voted down, and nothing was really done to promote the development of new groups it just gives the perception of not really understanding or accepting the reality of today. It's not going to EVER be like it was 20 years ago; but it can still be better than it is with a little development and work.

    The days of corps clustered together in the South and Midwest are gone as WGI has taken over in those areas, and the DCA brand doesn't have the development and promotional power of the past. The option to do SoundSport and get in front of similar size, if not larger crowds is appealing for many as well. Something one of the directors that mentors me said , playing of Zero Dark Thirty - "pre-Youtube"; "pre-Social Media"; "pre-2009" thinking. Having done both; I think they are great opportunities for ensembles and as I said before - it's the best time to start an all-age ensemble because you really have so many options. I'd argue the problem is no one is promoting the idea of "now it's the best time".... *looks for Class A coordinator, or DCA development director."

    • Like 1
  8. 12 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:

    no drum corps, electronics or not, could start up today on a shoestring budget. everything costs too much now, and not just the toys on the field.insurance, facilities, transportation....little is free anymore

    I think it can be expensive, but doesn't have to be, and you can do it for about $5K if you go proof of concept in SoundSport , DCA Mini-Corps, SDCA and then grow. Specifically, I've worked with two corps closely that started up and made it to the field in DCA, and another in DCI Soundsport then WGI. It's actually relatively cheap especially since you can use band instruments, and there is a sea of costume and uniform options out there for low cost or free. A lot of this is just what WGI ensembles are already doing and it works well for them, so scaling it up for a drum corps isn't too hard.

    Key points:

    With many schools switching to costumes; many are giving away uniforms for free. We on average take in 2-3 donations of free uniforms and then turn around and donate them to programs in the Midwest who need help.

    With so many WGI programs, there is a wash of Battery equipment for cheap; you can get a full line for $1500-3500 in decent condition. In many cases you can also rent from a local WGI ensemble or HS for very cheap.

    Front Ensemble Equipment is also available to rent, or purchase used at a very affordable cost. The corps I work with only owns one Marimba, so we just rent every year for $500-600 per board which equals out to about 7-9 years of rental to reach the cost of a new board. You can also offset this by using electronics like the Pearl Mlletstation or a Software synth with a Mac Mini for about $400 a synth station + cost of making a cart or just run two synths off one machine.

    Brass instruments; options to rent to own, or hook up with a new vendor who is looking for a test bed. Even if you buy used you can get a modest line for $12K used; or look to rent excess from corps that aren't using them. You could also use G Bugles and that would get you a full line of 20 horns 3 valve for about $3-4K. 

    Transportation: limit travel as much as possible and do local shows. If you do have to travel look at more affordable options like school buses, church buses, or rental vans with captains chairs for comfort like a lot of the new Ford Transits. Where a bus for 50-60 people costs $3-4K daily, 5 vans for the same amount of people is about $1K daily plus your corps insured Non-Owned Hire drivers which can be a mix of cleared volunteers or contractors. A larger DCA corps of 90 people did this for some of their DCI events in 2017 and saved a lot (though they had to contend with drivers).

    Facilities: For our org, we never stay in schools or even rehearse in schools as they are way too expensive. Try to find churches, community centers, camp grounds, charter schools, etc that will let you stay. Offer to hold a clinic for an hour for students, or perform some hymns and patriotic selections for the church and that usually is in-kind. We've been doing that for nearly 20 years and have only had one year we had to pay. The largest expenditure for facilities is Finals and we've negated that by using a Summer Camp which ended up being 75% less than hotels, plus gave us on site practice facilities. 

    My personal opinion is this: It's the best time to start a corps; specifically an all-age corps in DCA or DCI SoundSport. With so many options in DCA, DCI, SDCA, MACBDA, and more you can grow gradually and find something that works for your financially or just decide to move in a different direction and become a competitive marching band like AZ's Phenom, or just do WGI like TX Horizon.

    • Like 2
  9. On 9/20/2019 at 9:25 AM, Poppycock said:

    Why would any organization outside of the N.E. consider being part of a circuit with such a mindset? 

    We have to remember it wasn't always like this. There are the ole corps in the NE, up till 2014 there were still a lot of corps and clusters outside the NE. 


    In the last 12 years in DCA we had You had two CA Corps, two Texas corps, two GA Corps, 2 Florida corps, 1 CO Corps, 3 MN corps, 2 Conn Corps, 1 TN Corps, 2 OH Corps, and a few Internal CA, UK, GER corps..look at 2012 - 2014 as a good indicator of how it was and could be. For me, the elimination of the Class A coordinator in line with those drastic changes and slow growth of A corps is telling. 

    • Like 1
  10. On 9/19/2019 at 11:07 AM, MikeN said:

    Good ideas, all!  Regarding corps not yet in place, though, one thing DCI has done that I am amazed that DCA never thought of is the creation of SoundSport.  There were a number of corps a few years back, we all recall, that got nuked by the 30-member limit.  Show sponsors didn't want to pay big money for small returns, but small groups then had no chance to grow.  Frankly, expecting a never ending cycle of fully-formed Class A groups to appear ready to compete and perform seems unrealistic.

    SS sidesteps the whole issue - no pay for performance (in fact, the groups themselves have to pay to enter), but gives them an opportunity to actually perform and catch some eyeballs.  

    So what happened on the junior side?  SS has become the defacto third division of DCI.  Every Open Class corps that's entered for years started in SS, which has created some familiarity between the groups and DCI before the formal application process, and has also allowed for some guidance along the way.  

    Now here's a low-barrier opportunity for DCA - SS does not require a DCI-affiliated show sponsor.  Go ahead and add an official SS performance to the weekend, and then encourage both all-age *and* junior groups to attend.  It creates an extra opportunity for fans, an extra performance for the junior groups (who will eventually be DCA-age) and finally gives that needed performance stage for new groups that want to perform but can't under current rules.  And heck, give the performers the nosebleed seats to Finals while you're at it, and the crowd starts to get a little bigger, too!


    I will point out, for reference since 2013 the first year of SS, more corps have joined OC outside of the program than have gone through it. 

    Since 2013 : Battalion, Golden Empire, Louisiana Stars, River City Rhythm, Heat Wave, Shadow, and Vessel. Les Stentors returned this season without going through SS. 

    So far out of the 12 corps that have applied for OC from SS 3 made it. Guardians in 2013, Southwind in 2016, and Encorps in 2019. A fourth corps joined DCA Class A in 2018 and competes there, with another SS team rumored to be applying for DCA next season.

    I'm very impressed with the growth and impact SS is having on the all age portion of the activity. If you consider the majority of the consistent participants are all-age like Railmen, Rhythm in Blue, Impact, Star United, Rogues Hollow, Sonus, Lakeshoremen, Columbus Saints, Mon Valley, Les Titans, Rocketeers, Florida Express, and MBI. The fact they also picked up Chops this season and helped spawn a few DCA corps and mini-corps shows good cross cooperation.


    If anything the gravitation of All-Age ensembles to SS should be a message to DCA that they look to grow mini-corps. IMO making mini-corps its own class, and building a competitive season around them, then create two classes i.e. standstill and a field class. Have standstill class just do the normal mini corps champions. Then have field class go on in Prelims with the champion performing in exhibition. Could help foster a lot of sub 35 corps and those in mini-corps that may want to make that next step without fundamentally changing how everything flows for DCA. 

    • Thanks 1
  11. 43 minutes ago, C.Holland said:


    I'm not sure what you're challenging, those are the numbers of corps that competed in each class in DCI last season.   None of which will move to DCA.  the ones whom are trying to move from soundsport into Open Class are Compass & Lone Star.  They also do not look to be interested in DCA.   

    DCA would not help them in Texas. 

    I'm challenging the argument of impact on fostering new corps; there have been more corps started and made it into OC since SS started, than those that did SS and applied to OC and made it.

  12. 32 minutes ago, cixelsyd said:

    Yes, but...

    And how did that work out?

    Problem #1:  If cost and time are huge barriers, and you have to travel from Minnesota to Pennsylvania and keep your season going three weeks longer to do DCA, who has the bigger barrier?

    Problem #2:  Cost and time are NOT barriers to DCI participation.  Obviously SoundSport shatters those barriers... but even open-class has a wide range of time/cost equations.  World-class is where the minimum commitment is much higher.

    That said, if your corps is situated in an area with only WC DCI corps nearby, then you might have a unique lower-cost/time alternative to market in that area.  But to be honest, DCA does not offer that advantage nationwide.

    1.) Respectfully, Cost and Time are a HUGE barrier to participation; plus the fact you have entire demographics of people not participating outside of clusters like CA, where travel and membership costs are lower. You've seen a slow loss of participation from women, and minorities over the last twenty years along with former stalwart areas of junior corps like NY, OH, and WI now only having one or two Jr. Corps to march while other marching arts like DCA, WGI, and or summer band programs growing exponentially.  

       On the WGI note; a common response when you poll performers is "DCI is too expensive, and I don't want to be gone all summer - I can have a better experience in WGI for a fraction of the cost" and that's a solid case for why that activity is exploding. It's why corps like CT, Saints, and even Carolina Gold pull so heavily from WGI ensembles because they offer an affordable option for members to work, and march. 

    2.) It worked out well for MBI actually; they were able to recruit enough people to march Class A, but instead decided on SS. They field a full drumline, front ensemble, brass, and guard but opted for SS. It can be cheaper, but it also depends on how you manage your season and what choices you decide in shows during the season. If you just do one local show and go to Indy then you can make it reasonable; but if you try to do a few exhibitions, go to a few regionals and try to structure it like a drum corps season it can be a challenge for groups. 

  13. Another thing I think would be helpful would be development sessions. As in, there are lots of Marching Arts education programs and development courses but nothing specific to DCA. 

    Maybe gauge other directors, and staff; then just do some Facebook Live sessions and take about the path to the field. IMO; if you're a WGI Indoor drumline, or WGI Winds the path to fielding a corps should be nice and short and it's pretty affordable especially if you're east coast. In the same way Impulse and Pulse Percussion work. Maybe even a building high level document that lays out why you should join Class A, and a few ways to accomplish it.

    • Like 1
  14. 1 hour ago, C.Holland said:

    theyre up to 23 world class, and 24 open class in DCI.  the soundsport model is working to develop new groups.  There's a few more coming for open class. 

    I challenge you on those numbers; and the participation with the rate of failure for groups who've tried to move to OC, or the groups that tried to and are moving to DCA. 

  15. 1 hour ago, cixelsyd said:

    Yes, I agree.

    My comment was merely a reference to the transformation of senior corps to all-age corps, and then not so much "all" age when following DCI visual trends made it physically impractical for many older marchers to continue.  As DCA chose that style of performance, they had to recruit a younger demographic.  (But to do so, DCA must recruit in the same pool where DCI has already been recruiting.)

    I'd argue DCA's pool should be different than DCI's pool as there is a HUGE barrier to DCI participation: COST & TIME.

    IMO the best way to detail this is by the circuit defining, promoting, and owning their differences to control the conversation on what DCA is, instead of letting DCI corps tell young people who drum corps, and what DCA is about. You control your brand and what it represents instead of someone else...

    When MBI was coming back out they had a GREAT campaign around this. DCA is drum corps for EVERYONE! World Class Staff - Weekend Only Schedule - Affordable - Crowd Focused & Fun!  The clearest delineation is the cost, and time commitment.

  16. 1 minute ago, Fred Windish said:

    Very helpful tips, lcarlton !

    Took a quick look at the fiverr site. Reads like a valuable resource for the DCA organization to utilize.  Thank you for participating in this discussion.  

    You're welcome. It really is great. We had this order done for our poster and it only cost $15 and was done in 1 day https://www.fiverr.com/d3sign_engine/create-a-pro-fitness-basketball-and-gym-posters-581b?source=order_page_summary_gig_link_title&funnel=9e21e492-8397-4cf2-bdbb-ba810abae2f1 . If you scroll through you'll see our poster for our show a few images in. 

    Same for the videos; we got them done for $20 and turned around in three days. We attached a ticket purchase link to it, and people were buying tickets online through Facebook using our vendor tickettailor; easy peasy!

  17. A few comments:

    DCA shows typically pay corps to perform, while DCI all-age events are without pay. Not that it makes a huge difference but getting $1-3K from a show to cover travel can make a huge difference. 

    Marketing does not require a full-time office in the age of social media, and the gig economy. As proven by DCI's marketing initiatives, and marketing examples such as Jersey Surf you can have a distributed team of people in varied geographic locations that help support marketing efforts. WIth only tools like Spark, and Canva, and gig sites like fiverr you can get all of your design and promotional needs resolved cheap and easily.

    Most recently, I did marketing and promotions for a few years for a major Miami fashion event called "DiveSwimWeek" during Swim Week. This is a VERY high level and high end fashion event featuring new designers like chromat and more. 1.) I never step foot in Miami 2.) there were two interns who helped post content 3.) we developed all of our marketing content MONTHS in advance and scheduled it out so the work during the events was based on engaging the audience. Keep in mind - this is not my full time job and completely unrelated to my day job.

    I've done marketing for a major DCI show for five years; after the second year, they stopped physical advertisements and went solely to only advertisements. 8 World Class corps including BD and Bluecoats; a budget of $500, coupled with about 60 man hours over the course of 8 month and we helped grow the events ticket sales year after year topping off at 3600; with 1800 pre-sale tickets EVEN WITH THREAT OF RAIN. Content was generated by myself months in advance; scheduled; and I even went and built the website with updated data.

    We hosted a two corps show this summer with no physical marketing, instead using all digital marketing, in a market that hasn't had a DCA show in over 20 years. Turnout exceeded expectations by 20% even in high heat; areas we can do better - some physical marketing and direct contact with directors for group discounts. Better engagement from local musical ensembles and vendors for support of the show. The biggest success and comments we received were around our professional developed videos and posters... all of which were purchased on fiverr.com for less than $50 TOTAL. 

    IMO - all corps and the circuit have to be more diligent about marketing. Ask for help; delegate it to others; develop a brand strategy and just go after it. DCA is such an expansive circuit it absolutely breaks my heart that the history of the circuit; market that's distinctly different than DCA, and more isn't being exploited. 

    Fostering an engaged digital fanbase: 

    The DCI Ambassador program is a good example of how to start cultivating a grassroots agency and engagement for fans. Special passes; discounts on tickets; instantly enhanced social media presence; along with fans that now are commenting in a semi-official capacity about each corps going ons. This has the benefit of organically aggregating news and content on corps and the circuit by engaging and rewarding active social media users. I wrote a plan for this a year ago that may work for DCA; I offered my assistance with no real interest. 

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 2
  18. 1 hour ago, Terri Schehr said:

    That’s what DCI does for Indy.  

    They also have a DCI Ambassador program which has yielded results It's basically a team of students, and fans who help advertise for the circuit through social media, attending events, and more earning free merch, tickets and more. Gives them agency in helping #growdrumcorps https://www.dci.org/news/join-the-2017-dci-ambassadors-and-help-growdrumcorps 

    • Like 1
  19. On 8/29/2019 at 8:40 PM, Terri Schehr said:

    Here’s the original order.  The first block looks a lot different. 

    4:00pm                       Columbus Saints        Class A
    4:17pm                       Govenaires                 Class A
    4:34pm                       Southern Knights      Open Class
    4:51pm                       Sunrisers                    Open Class
    5:08pm                       Cincinnati Tradition  Open Class
    5:25pm                       Carolina Gold             Class A
    5:42pm                       Skyliners            

    Yes, the Columbus Saints wouldn't have been able to perform if they went on at 10AM as they'd be missing nearly 40% of the corps. The extra hour made a huge difference though we had people literally rolling up as we took the field only to join us for finals in the evening.

    About 40% of our corps are students in HS, College, or Band Directors who couldn't miss games or events on Friday, and thus had to leave Friday night around midnight driving through the night to arrive in the morning. We have a pretty sizable contingent from Cincinnati so that's an 8.5 hour drive (with stops) assuming you don't stop to sleep. 

    We appreciate the gracious effect made by the other directors, and willingness of the Governaires to initiate the discussion on changing times to help us out. Class act!

    • Like 2
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