The following article was written for casa.org, The Contemporary A Cappella Society. It can be viewed on their site at http://www.casa.org/node/5468.
Managing a high school, collegiate or even semi-pro group can be a daunting task. But don’t worry – you’re not alone. I’m here to give you a few hints in managing your group with free services from our Google Overlords. That’s right, this isn’t a commercial, but just suggestions on how you could use a few of these tools to help improve the organization and efficiency of your group.
Google Groups – Create an email list serve. If your group isn’t operating on an email list serve yet, then I don’t know how you’re even functioning. Communication is an essential part of being in a group, and email is totally in. Using a list serve can easily communicate nonintrusively with your whole group things from details to shows to that crazy video of Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider doing Michael Jackson.
Once you’ve set up your group list serve, start an alumni list serve! If you’re a high school or collegiate group, you’re going to want to stay in touch with these people. Even if you always thought your tenors smelled a little bit, you’ll want to know when they’re getting married, or when the next time your old group is next performing. Alumni relations are important in general; this is a great way to keep it current.
GMail – Manage your group email with a Google email. GMail has the cleanest and easiest free email interface I have ever used, hands down. Also, it provides great features like automatic email forwarding – I use this feature to forward our firstname.lastname@example.org to multiple people, our MD, president, and business manager. Having a shared group GMail can also be useful for dumping medium sized files, like audio clips from your last show.
Google Docs – After you create your group a GMail account, click over to the documents tab on the top left of your screen. This is Google Docs. Free hosting for all your document, spreadsheet, and presentation needs. The best use for this: storage of arrangements. Never again will I need to call an alumnus from 15 years ago for his arrangement of “Up the Ladder to the Roof”, or yell at one of the basses for losing his copy of “Me and the Boys”. Everything is neatly preserved online for the entire group to access whenever they need.
Google Docs is also useful from an administrative standpoint. It’s a great place for groups to share financial datawithin itself – keep records of CD sales or budget records for your next CD on one of their spreadsheets. Also, I upload each skit, official letter, newspaper article, or photo, as a sort of time capsule for any Crosby that might come ten, twenty years from now. Provide for your group’s future, today!
Google Calendar – A great way to keep each member of your group on the same page. I don’t know about you, but in my group, we gig about twice a week, from around campus to the greater New York area. It’s a lot to keep track of, but using Google Calendar, my group has a central place to find all rehearsals, gigs, and parties that may come up. On the calendar, a description what will be worked on/auditioned/or learned is included on each rehearsal date, so every member of the group always is aware of what they are responsible for.
Google Calendar is also a great way to keep fans updated on what and when your group will be performing. Since it is easily embeddable into any website, it can make your group’s site a destination for any fan. Alternatively, make your calendar public so people can automatically subscribe – this is great for people who already use Google Calendar like me!