Artist: Hey, can my band play here?
Venue: Sure, we have an open Thursday night. How many people you bringing in?
Artist: What? Oh, um … I don’t know. Do you want to hear our music?
Venue: Nah. If you’re good people will show up, right?
Artist: Um, I guess.
Venue: Good. Here’s 50 tickets. You need to sell a minimum of 25 for $10. Beyond that, you get $1 per ticket you sell.
Artist: Oh, okay. But it’s a weeknight, what if we can only sell 20?
Venue: Then I’ll find another band that will sell the tickets.
These toxic ideals basically turn the music scene into a pyramid scheme. It turns bands into swindlers that have to deceive people to come out to shows while they cutthroat each other to get their slot; and feeds down the line to bands scamming each other for the chance to play the same night together.
At the end of it all, you have patrons who think all local music is garbage, bands that don’t strive to have a great sound in order to perform, and venues that are run-down dens with zero reputation for good music.
And just like every great pyramid scheme, by the end everyone knows it’s a scam, everyone’s jaded, and something that could have thrived is now desolate.
The argument comes from both sides, yet the end result is both parties want people in attendance – and the more people, the better. But what no one is asking is: what about the music? Is the music the main focus here or has this scene just become another front to swindle cash?
Bands/Artists – why are you groveling to play at these types of venues? If you are bringing 25-50 people at $10 a head to come to a place where they are buying drinks and you are seeing $50 a night of those sales, you are being scammed!
Get creative to play shows! Have house events, rent out an event hall, put on your own gigs! If you’re good at music, why should you play pauper around town to get seen by your own people? That’s madness.
Venues – why are you destroying your reputations with terrible music? As a business, isn’t it more important to keep customers returning than cheating them out of $10 and never seeing them again? So why lie?
Why not set standards for your venue – standards based on quality of music rather than quantity of followers. You have to know some of these bands are making your venue look like garbage, so why not filter out the crap?
Get great bands playing as often as possible, and pay them well. Set a standard that benefits you and the artists and make your venue the hot spot for great new artists as well as a weekly destination spot for music lovers in your area.
Bottom line: this is music. Good music should always win. The quality should be paramount and encouraged. So for both sides, don’t settle for the status quo.
When he’s not writing exceptional and informative blogs, Norman Hittle can be found playing the keys/synth for the Colorado Springs alternative indie pop band Hydrogen Skyline. The band released their newest EP ‘Hey Sly King Drone’ (a clever anagram of the band’s name) this year.
Check out the video for their song “Victory” from their 2014 EP ‘Only Shy Deer King’ (another anagram, if you hadn’t noticed) below. If you like what you hear, you can purchase a CD here.