Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dealing with Bars...and their booking guys

Anyone who has ever played in a band and dealt with booking gigs has encountered issues with their intermediaries (bar managers, owners, etc) in the booking and confirmation of gigs.

There is a certain bar in West Chester.  I contacted their booking guy, Rob.  We agreed back in July on a show Friday, September 9th.  To confirm the start time & end time, I emailed him last Wednesday to say we were looking forward to the gig, and when do you want us to start?  He comes back... "Oh, I had you on the calendar for Thursday night.  Call me ASAP."  Unbelievable!  I dig up the old email where he confirmed the date with me.  Check.

I call him... he goes on this long story about how the owner has established a "piano man" scene on Friday nights, with bands on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Which is fine in itself.  But why had he not called me and let me know?  Is that too much to ask?  Had I not emailed him Wednesday, we would have showed up Friday night with all our gear (including PA) for a jam session with Piano Man, and not gotten paid.  
Sing us a song, you're the piano man.
This kind of thing goes on all the time.  It's par for the course.  That is why it is so important to find good people and work with them - to build relationships with bars where the people are cool and the bartenders treat you well.  I have a personal relationship with a certain individual in our area, Jim Miller, who books two of the best live venues in the state - Deer Park and Logan House.  We have a relationship going way back.  He takes care of us, and we take care of him.  This is exactly the type of situation you must create as a band in order to succeed for any length of time.

Because the simple fact is, if you do not have a relationship like that, it will be very difficult to keep your band together.  When all else fails - when you are fighting inside the band, when other members play in other bands, when you are tired - it's the gigs that pull you back together.  It's the gigs that make all the work and the sacrifice worth it.  It's the gigs that focus the minds of the members and get guys off their horse to practice.  The gigs are the big payoff.  That's why you pick up a guitar and play.  To play your music for people to enjoy.

The man who invented the phonograph, and therefore the music industry.  Thomas Edison.
I have never understood this fantasy of selling records and making millions... if it were ever true it isn't any more because music is free now.  Anyone can download any song without paying for it.  So we are back where we were before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, before large corporations controlled the distribution of music, before these same corporations forced people to buy entire albums of lousy music just to get that one song you really like (it was a place called the '90s).  I have a Case Logic CD case full of albums like that - Blind Melon, Black Crowes, albums with one good song and the rest suck. 

One-hit-wonder: Blind Melon
I think it is hilarious when bands try to sell their CDs for $10 now.  I wonder how many they have sold?  There is a new paradigm in music now, and the sooner everyone adjusts, the sooner bands will be the better for it.  
The man who blew up the world of popular music - Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs is a genius for a reason.  He not only invented the personal computer; he re-invented the music business.  He removed the middle man - the big mean music corporation - using technology (iPod, iTunes) and common sense.  99 cents per song is very easy for everyone to understand. Except many musicians who still try to get $10 for their CD. 

So, Will, what's your point? Well, the reason to play music now is the same reason that men played music 1,000 years ago.  To entertain the locals with your talent; to give the young a reason to move their feet and meet a mate on the dance floor; to grease the wheels of commerce at your local saloon; to find yourself in the company of a woman you have no business being with otherwise; to have a darn good time making people happy.  That's why. 

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