I’ve been playing in working bands (both cover and original) since 1985. Over that 30 plus years I’ve seen a lot of change in the music industry and local music scene. My first original release was in a predominant cassette era, then it was CD, now it’s predominant digital download with vinyl making a strong comeback. Also without the backing of a major label it was damn near impossible to achieve success, now you can achieve success with a good recording and an iPhone video through the social platform.
The area of change currently affecting me is the local scene. Back in the day I had an endless stream of gigs, with both my cover and original bands. Back in the day the clubs knew they needed to bring in patrons and it was not the sole responsibility of the band, now; not so much. Yes, it was important for the band to draw to keep gigs, but the burden was not placed on the band alone. Now when I contact clubs the very first question I’m asked is how many people I can bring into the club. Well, how many people will the club be bringing to see me? It should be a mutual effort, no?
Hey club owners I have a question for you, during you hiring process with your bartenders, cooks, dish washers, servers, and security do you ask them how many people they can draw to your bar? Maybe bartenders are asked if they have a following (as many do) but I doubt you rely solely on them to fill your bar.
As a band with a following we are always looking to build our following as we can’t rely on the same people to attend every show. The way to build our following is for the club itself to have a following so we are consistently exposed to a new crowd.
The other area where I find great frustration is with promoters who never return phone calls or messages. This is unacceptable behavior, if you don’t want to book my band simple tell me I’m a big boy and can take it. This lack of response from club owners and promoters especially from clubs where we have an established relationship is simply disrespectful and they should be ashamed of themselves for such poor behavior. You have the right to book or not book anyone you like, but at least have the common courtesy to return a call, not much to ask.
I once had a club promoter tell me he would book a monkey banging on a garbage can every week if people came in to see it, and I get it. But that being said even on nights we had less than stellar turnouts from our fan base, his club was full.
Back in the day Northern New Jersey had a great local music scene, now I have to say it sucks and it’s draining me of the passion I once had as a musician. May be time for a change.