I thought I’d take some time out and write a blog about something that affects us all and that we all seem to have strong opinions on and that’s the state of the live music scene in this country.
There are many problems facing the survival of live music in this country, some we can’t directly change but others that we can. I’m going to be focussing on the issues we can change but to understand this trend we need to be aware of the problems facing the live music industry as a whole. There is a really good article by Daniel Gumble here which sums it all up pretty well.
What I want to talk about however is attendance. Being from the Brighton area we are spoilt for choice with regards to venues, artists and promoters. There are also an abundance of enthusiastic artists who want their music to get listened to so why is it that events are being pulled or cancelled? In theory even if it was just the musicians in this area going to see live music these events should thrive but some don’t so why is this?
Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not talking about all bands or all promoters. I know bands and promoters that work day and night to contribute to the local music scene so hats off to these guys and keep doing what you do!
I see the problem as two fold, the first being the promoter. The clue is in the title, promoters need to promote their events. Regardless of whether it is a local open mic night or an event featuring well renowned acts the same is true promotion is key. Too many promoters have opted for the “you must be able to bring 20 people” line which is partly fair enough, a band should be able to pull in their fan base to these events given time especially with the advent of social media. However relying on this to bring in a crowd is a dangerous and often disastrous way to run an event. The promoter should be going all out to make sure these events are a success utilizing social media and bringing in people from outside the bands friendship circle. This is what enables events to thrive and continue as people go to the event rather than just to see the band. The best nights are the ones that pull in people regardless of who’s playing and that is the job of the promoter.
The other problem is with the bands themselves. I know from experience that it is often difficult to get even your closest friends to come and see you play but you have to try. Too many bands will turn up to a gig / open mic and moan that there is nobody there. Now if the promoter had done their job and the band had done theirs there would more than likely be people but a band shouldn’t expect to turn up to a ready-made crowd so should know that they have got people coming. I think over gigging has a lot to answer to for many bands. Of course it is important to play often as that is how a band or artist becomes better live but gigging too often in the same area is a problem. You only have a pool of fans from specific areas to call upon so if they are being asked to come to numerous events chances are they may come to one but not the rest or may just not come at all because they know they can see you whenever.
Make each gig an event, plan it in advance and promote it leading up to the gig. Make sure everyone knows when you are playing & try to get people to confirm they are coming, you are always going to get people who back out at the last minute but minimise the chances of this happening. Gigging often or regularly is important so gig in different areas, social media means you can promote to fans in other areas so treat these the same as local gigs and build up fan bases wherever you go. Use mailing lists (I Know its oldschool) to send out an email when you are playing but don’t spam people because that’s not cool.
Band etiquette is another thing but you can read more about that in an earlier blog of mine If you’re good people will listen
As musicians if we want the scene to survive there are things we can all do to keep it as healthy as we can. Yes there are things out of our control not helping but we can still do our bit. Support local events and open mics. Don’t just go to the ones you are playing at, go and watch other local bands and be a part of your local live music scene.
We are lucky to have some great musicians in this country that are undiscovered gems so go out there and find and enjoy them!
I’d be interested to know what you guys think so hit me up with a comment and lets get a discussion going? I’m going to be doing these blogs twice monthly to begin with so your feedback is most welcome.
Thanks for taking the time to read
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