Let's start here: clubs; for the most part club owners steer clear of the bullshit. Good for them. Promoters/bookers; you guys need to work on ya shit. As do bands. Now it's not ALL of you, there’s a lot of good eggs out there, but it seems to be a constant battle between who's screwing who. Y'all should just get married since it’s the same argument. Bands; DRAW and promote and the booker wont bone you, unless of course your looking to get laid and haven't acquired groupies yet. Bookers; be reasonable for Christ sake. Which I understand is a lot to ask. Been there done that, but understand the hard work bands put into even creating the product we're all trying to get out. Then there's the age old "ticket sales" debate. Listen if you’re a band and you have fans then what is the problem? Maybe I'm missing the boat here. Ticket packages are where I think things get shady. If you buy into a contract where you have to buy "X" amount of tickets and there's no way in hell your band can sell them, then whose fault is that? Yours. Plain and simple.
However, I really don't think the major problem here is the bands, the promoter/ booker or the venue. I blame the "fans". Yup "fans" it’s your fault. You’re like the other woman in this twisted relationship. I know a lot of "fans" that preach "Support local music" and never attend a show. I understand shit happens and we all have lives outside of the music scene we want to support but what the hell! Show up! I also blame the internet, yup the ole world wide web. It has its place, trust me, I'm on it. You can check out bands you might never have had the chance or notion to check out, but once again, what the hell! Go see a show once you find those bands! You think that band has been writing music so you can pick up the digital version for pennies and never attend a show, buy a physical CD or God forbid maybe a t-shirt? I remember when I actually had to get off my ass, go to a venue and see bands play in order to find a new band I might not of ever heard before.
I remember when bands, promoters/bookers, venues AND the fans worked TOGETHER. I know your saying this old bastard is off his meds again, but it’s true. It used to happen. I'm sure there was still shady shit going on but this was when the scene was GREAT! Everyone working together to put everyone on the map! Then we all jumped on our own bandwagon and said "fuck you" to the other guy and now it’s just a bunch of "this guy did/said this". In conclusion; man the fuck up, promote your shows, pay your bands and SUPPORT THE SCENE. Stop saying you are, because if we can't do this then I say lets end this awkward relationship now. As long as I get to keep the dog and my record collection... <drops mic, walks off soap box>
Authors note: After my above rant I decided to reach out to a few of my friends in the industry to get their take on this. Here’s what they had to say:
“Ferro you are old and so am I. But you know what? Iʼm an honest dude and Iʼve done a lot of cool shit as far as playing shows and being in bands in this area. Iʼve seen it all; jackass club owners, scam artist promoters, shit bands with giant egoʼs and no talent, drug addicts, groupies, great bands, amazing musicians, great club owners, fans, friends and so much more. It was called the “Scene” and it is all but gone these days. I know some of you reading this are gonna be like “there’s still is a scene asshole” but let’s be honest, the “Scene” blows.
First off let’s start with club owners. Club owners only care about one thing: MONEY. Most owners have nothing to do with the clubs other then the business side of things. Gone are the days of the Living Room, a club where the owner Randy actually did care about music and young kids starting out. No matter if the club was packed or empty you always got paid. It might not always be much but it was something and Randy booked pretty much all the shows.
Promoters/ booking agents are usually either on top of their game or little scam artist fucks. If you are in a band and there are more the five bands on the bill expect it to be a shit show. Sets are going to be short, sound is going to suck and you probably arenʼt getting paid much if anything. Thatʼs because they have cover cost and rob you for their cut. A good promoter books a solid line-up, has their shit as organized as possible and does something that never seems to happen these days...THEY PROMOTE THE SHOW!!! Amazing shit right? I remember when bands would go out and promote their shows and Iʼm not talking about FB, Iʼm talking about going to other bands shows, support them and network, party, whatever, but it was something. If the bands, clubs, and promoters all worked together it would be a step in the right direction. Because let’s face it, there arenʼt a lot of clubs to play anymore. So if the clubs, bands and promotors donʼt get it together, more clubs will close, less clubs to play, no money at all for the out of work promoter and the “Scene” continues to decay.
After saying all that, I put most of the blame on BANDS. I know all musicians have egos but you gotta keep that shit in check. Now I know there are still some good bands with good people in this area, Iʼm not talking about them. Iʼm talking about kids/grown ass men who feel like they are entitled. Now if your packing clubs making money ok you can get away with that shit to a point. But I honestly could not name you more than two current bands in this area who can draw more than 50 people to a show on a consistent bases; girlfriends and parents donʼt count. Another thing I feel is way out of hand is bands paying to play shows. I understand why it happens, but coming from a musician I think its bullshit. If itʼs for a national act it makes more sense to me and Iʼm ok with that. That is great exposure for your band to reach a new audience. But playing some shit club and having to sell tickets is a joke but then thatʼs because most bands canʼt draw flies. Can you see the cycle now? And honestly itʼs the people with the big mouths and rockstar attitudes that usually cry and bitch the most... because they fucking suck. If more bands talked less shit and actually got together and worked out solid shows with good clubs and really promoted maybe things could start to happen again. But it all starts with how hard the bands involved are willing to work, not only within their bands but with other bands and clubs/booking agents.
Lastly I want to talk about fans. Fans donʼt want to see the same band play the same city every week or even month. Technology has shortened attention spans and if the same bands are playing the same clubs people lose interest. Shit gets old.
Also the economy blows and people donʼt always have extra cash to spend on shows and booze. I know that’s a lame excuse but for some people I know itʼs very true. Iʼm done. Get out, see a show, maybe even a random show. You could find something you like or you could find some suck. But do something, bands and agents do something. The “Scene” needs some serious help. And all the bands, agents and clubs out there trying to keep things alive and doing the right things, keep on keeping on.”-Anthony
Obviously this ties into the pay to play issues. Young bands are almost completely reliant on pay to play shows with touring bands. I do not do it, I do not believe in it, but it’s also the reason why I lose a lot of money on some shows and can't book all the shows I want to book because financially it is too risky. The audience is not there, agents and bands want a lot of money to play, and we are a small market. I don't think any club or promoter wants to make bands sell tickets, but it is either that or nothing. To play devil's advocate, the only way I can justify pay to play for the bands is to think of it as any other business. If you are in a band and you want to succeed, you need to think of it like a business. Your business has start up costs- equipment, recording, gas, and marketing. Any business worth their salt will spend up to 60% of their money on advertising, so what's wrong with justifying the $200-300 to "buy into" an opening spot, when you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on equipment and studio costs? I mean think about it...if it costs $3000 to record an album, you think it’s a smart business decision to spend $0 on advertising your new record? It’s up to the band to decide if the several hundred bucks to pay to play is worth the opening spot or if it’s better suited on traditional advertising. At least with tickets, the band has at least the opportunity to get their money back if they sell all of them. If they are good, they will sell their records and merch, and draw enough people to get paid.
There is too much bitching and whining, and not enough doing. But when someone steps up to try and do something in this city they get knocked down for one reason or another. Competition is good, but clubs, promoters, and bands don't think so anymore because the piece of the pie is too small here. But it’s a fundamental problem, not a quick fix.”-Denny
“First and foremost I would like to thank Joe Ferro, The Franchise and 990WBOB for this opportunity to voice my opinion and be part of his blog. At first I wanted to rage about all that is wrong with the music scene, but then as I sit back and think about it, I realize there really isn't anything wrong with the “scene”. I have come to the conclusion that the problem is a major disconnect between musician, promoter and venue owner. At the end of the night, our main objective is to make a fan/ ticket holder/customer happy.
What I’m tying to say we all need to work together! It’s Not Rocket Science BUT!!
As a musician/band you are there to entertain, maintain and gain a fan base. You must know your music, engage your crowd, and not stand there going through the motions. BORING!!!! Remember, your fans are there to be entertained by you. You want them to go home after a night of watching you play and go, “WOW! That was an amazing show!” Also part of this is Promoting your band. Letting the fans know where they can see you next. And being available to purchase tickets or know how to. Set up a merch table...
As a promoter, you want the ticket holder to buy your tickets. You need to give the band a reason to also HELP sell the tickets. Having good promotion and advertisement, You want your ticket holders to understand that they are spending their money on something worth it. You also want it to be worth it for the band to A. Be there and B. Help promote.
The venue/ bar has to realize that the whole event being brought to their establishment is to entertain their customers. You are NOT doing the bands a favor by letting them play at your bar! Set up an entertainment budget. Make sure The Promoter understands this Budget. It’s not hard......
Of course there is soooooo much more but this would be a great start. Remember, we are after the same goals, Fill a Club, Gain fans and make some money!!!!!” -Jeff