Today, Thursday, is when we will feature some of our favorite cabaret blogs or performers. Today I’d like to give a shoutout to a great site that is best known as a hotline rather than a blog (although there is a blog for this site), Stu Hamstra’s Cabaret Hotline Online.
In existence for twenty-two years, first as a hard-copy newsletter and now in an online format, the Cabaret Hotline Online is a veritable treasure trove of the latest happenings in the arena of cabaret from the United States and around the world. You can sign up for free online, and receive a twice-weekly online hotline sent directly in your inbox, or you can become a member of the site for a small fee ($10 and up), which gives you additional benefits such as discounts to New York cabaret shows and more, and helps to keep the hotline running.
The author of the hotline, Stu Hamstra, states that “Cabaret Hotline Online is an independent website with more than 7,500 pages of news, information and stories on cabaret, owned and maintained by Stu Hamstra, as well as a free twice-weekly email newsletter sent to over 3,400 subscribers all over the world.” I can’t say that I have read all 7,500 pages, but I have read several, and found many interesting features helpful to any cabaret artist:
- Sue Matsuki’s cabaret show reviews (once you’ve clicked the link, scroll down the page): I love how she does her reviews. If she likes the show, she gives details about why, and uses the performers’ names in the column. If she doesn’t like the show, she speaks of it in generalities so feelings don’t get hurt, and yet we can all benefit from learning what was successful and what was not, to apply to our own work in cabaret. These are really more than reviews, because they often contain a mini-lesson in some aspect of cabaret, which is very informative for the cabaret singer. She performs herself, and is an award-winning singer who also knows a great deal about the business side of cabaret. She produces cabaret shows that introduce “People You Should Know”, to help give new performers more exposure.
- Advertisements: Normally you wouldn’t get too excited about an ad on a website, but these are different. You get to see everyone’s flyers for their shows that they are using, and you can click on the link to learn more about that show. With his reach to a huge cabaret-going audience, this is a quality spot to advertise your show. He even offers discounts on advertising for shows that are happening outside of the New York City area, so those of us in the nether-regions (!) of the country can benefit from national exposure for our shows as well.
- If you become a member, you get some really good benefits: For basic membership, Mr. Hamstra will post your name, city and cabaret website link on his site that is read by thousands of cabaret enthusiasts; as well, he offers discounts to NYC shows and a special members-only newsletter. Basic silver memberships allows you the above, plus you can post your cabaret blog link, you get a discount on a banner ad for your next show, can post your cabaret you tube links, podcast and webcast, and cabaret CDs you have for sale can be posted on the CD page. That’s a pretty big bang for $20 spent on your advertising! Advertising can get very costly for the cabaret performer, but the Cabaret Hotline Online is a place where you get real value for the money you spend. If you send a press release, it will be included for free on the Cabaret Events Listing page. (To disclose: I have nothing to do with this Hotline–I just really like it and wanted to give you my personal opinion about it. You will want to visit the Hotline directly for more specific details about membership costs and benefits.)
- Resources page: This area offers a “Tips and FAQ” link (located in the menu at the top of the page) that gives some great advice for those starting out in cabaret performance, or those who want to review some Best Practices in cabaret.
- The Here and There section: This is found in the newsletter, and I really like these sections, which appear near the beginning and end of each newsletter. (I often find myself scrolling down to these parts first when I get the newsletter, and then going back to read the rest afterward!) It’s a little more informal, and you get to know Mr. Hamstra a bit better through his engaging writing style as he relates shows that he wants to see and those he got to see, his personal picks and reviews, plus the excitement behind the scenes of putting together some of the great events that he does, such as the March Is Cabaret Month event in NYC. He has started to add some Out Of Town picks here of shows outside NYC that he would like to see, which I love, and it is encouraging to those cabaret performers not in the Big Apple to see that others in outlying areas are also helping to keep cabaret alive! We are not alone, even though it might feel like it sometimes!
I have barely touched the surface of all the detailed information that this hotline contains. This is a cabaret hotline with blog that deserves your attention,and I encourage you to visit Stu Hamstra’s Cabaret Hotline Online!
Is there a cabaret blog or performer that you would like to see featured on McElrath Cabaret? Leave us a note in the comments below–we always love to hear from our readers!