Where is everyone? I thought you? But… us? Eh? 06/08/2007
How do all, life is well I hope? This weeks blog topic comes from one of Sentric’s Artists, Jim:
“Topics for blog? hmmmm The role of the promoter/band in actually getting people down to gigs?
its important that the promoter doesn’t just expect the band to bring 30 people and and its important that the band doesn’t expect the promoter to fill the venue all by themselves. All about communication between the band and the promoter prior to the gig and on the night. Too many nights are dis-organised and it de-motivates the band and the promoter. I could write for hours on that personally!”
Regular readers of the blog will be aware that in my time in the music business I’ve both managed an artist and played the role of promoter so I can come at this topic with both angles.
Jim is certainly right that playing to an empty venue can be really de-motivating for a band and can cause friction between the artist and the promoter, or even the artist and the management (“What did you book us this bloody gig for?”). But playing rubbish gigs is an inevitability for an unsigned artist, it simply just happens. There could be many reasons why the gig was no good: not promoted efficiently, poor attendance, clashes with something more popular (a bigger gig or an important footie match etc), a poorly arranged line up with a whole cacophony of unmixable genres which leaves the audience both bemused and perplexed etc, but quite simply just acknowledge the fact that you shall play shit gigs and possibly quite regularly as well. If worst comes to worst, just view the gig as a practice. You practice twice a week already so just see it as a bonus practice in front of an audience and stop moaning for once. Also, although quite a cliché it can ring true: it’s not how many you play too; it’s who you play too. Even though there may be only 12 people in the audience, 1 of those might be a record label bigwig with a few hundred grand burning a hole in his/her pocket.
When it comes to gig attendance there should usually be an ‘understanding’ between the artist and the promoter. Some do expect the artists to bring punters down (through active promotion rather then just the reputation of the band) and some don’t. Some promoters (and I’m really not a fan of these myself) expect you to sell tickets before the gig yourself and hand over the cash when you arrive at the venue –
(I once experienced this with a gentleman with whom I’ll never work with again in the future. I managed to convince around 20 people to get a minibus from Sheffield to see a gig in Manchester to help us sell all of our allocated tickets. Once we arrived at the venue I gave the gentlemen his money (and kept the £8 profit that we made) and he buggered off somewhere. 2 days later he emailed me saying ‘great gig last night, do you lads fancy playing again?’ even though he never watched the bloody set! He had no idea if we were any good but he did know that we could make him money. The leech.)
– when you book a gig with a promoter ask what his/her expectations are. If they say they’d be chuffed if you brought people down but don’t worry about it too much then fair enough. If they say they’d expect you to bring a certain amount of people which you feel you can achieve then fair enough again. If they say they expect you to bring a number of people that you don’t believe you can bring then tell them. Don’t bother lying, there is no point.Obviously it’s in both the artists and promoters opinion to get people to a gig, but in my humble opinion a promoter who is worth their salt should be able to receive a half decent attendance at any night they put on.
A good promoter should:–
Chose the right venue for the genre of music being played–
Have the right mix of bands on the bill–
Know the key demographic they’re aiming for (i.e metal heads, indie kids, under 18’s etc)–
Have the foresight not to put the gig on a day where it clashes with a major event (obviously this in unavoidable for weekly, bi-weekly, monthly nights etc)–
Advertise gigs efficiently and effectively, utilising tools such as mailing lists, social networking sites, fly postering, text-outs etc–
Be polite. I hate promoters who don’t come say hello and have a chat with the artist (personal point that one)–
Know what their punters want (i.e. drinks promo’s, free CD’s of the artists playing etc)–
Do extra little things for the artists (we used to put up mailing lists on the back wall, one for each artist, and give them to them at the end of the night. That always went down well)–
Be organised (sound checks, stage times, sound tech’s, security all need sorting)–
And then there is a load else of other stuff that I won’t go into as this isn’t a blog about how to run a gig
Basically, if the promoter is good then the only thing the artist should worry about is turning up and playing their music. But maybe I live in a dream world. The more gigs you play, the more experience you will have. Not just in a musical sense, but you will also begin to know who is good at what they do. You’ll begin to have your favourite promoters because they always fill the venue, your favourite venue because they’ve always got the best sound techs etc. There are a lot of cowboys and general idiots in the music industry so keep optimistic. If you play a bad gig don’t see it as that, see it for the extra nugget of information you’ve just gained: Don’t play for them again, they’re useless.
Just thought I’d mention DPercussion as I popped down there this weekend and had a jolly good time. It’s a pity it won’t be back next year but I have a sneaking suspicion that someone else will probably do something to take it’s place. Maps were good (http://www.myspace.com/mapsmusic), Lucy and the Caterpillar was the definition of cute (http://www.myspace.com/lucyandthecaterpillar), Bonebox showed why there should be more Lap Steel’s in contemporary music (http://www.myspace.com/jaytaylor), Sentric’s latest arrivals Carlis Star performed a strong set (http://www.myspace.com/carlisstar) and it’s always fun to have a good dance to The Sunshine Underground (http://www.myspace.com/thesunshineunderground).
What I’m reading this week: www.stereogum.com