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Old 02-24-2012, 12:09 AM
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DrumEatDrum DrumEatDrum is offline
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Default Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician

This came in my email today, and I've seen it floating around the net in a few spots.

I thought it was an interesting read, and might spur some different discussion on DW.

Click the link for the full letter

In short:
But here’s where the club owner doesn’t get it. The crowd is following the band, not the venue. The next night you will have to start all over again. And the people that were starting to follow your venue are now turned off because you just made them listen to a bad band. The goal should be to build a fan base of the venue. To get people that will trust that you will have good music in there every night. Instead, you’ve soiled your reputation for a quick fix.

If you asked a club owner, ”who is your target demographic?” I doubt they would answer ”the band’s friends and family.” But yet clubs operate likeit is.
Back in San Francisco, I saw this. Venues that did play-to-play or otherwise made it difficult for the bands went out of business, because after a while, the club booked bands that were willing to play rather than had any actual quality and people just stopped going. Then a new club poped up that built a business based on consistently having quality bands every weekend and developed a built in crowd. In Los Angeles, it's certainly different because there are so many bands that venues always have the upper hand because the supply of bands far out weighs the demand for live music. I don't see how the situation could be turned around as long as there are always those young bands who will do anything for some exposure.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:22 AM
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Garvin Garvin is offline
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Default Re: Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician

"I went home that night bummed out and sent him an email. Telling him most of what you are reading here and how his business model and thinking is flawed. After a lot of swearing back and forth, because I’m guessing that musicians never talk to him as a business equal, he eventually admitted that what I was saying made sense. BUT, that’s not how LA clubs and restaurants work. And he has bands answering his craigslist ads willing to do whatever it takes to get the gig. It’s been a couple of years now since that conversation. I called his bar, and the number is disconnected."

The most poignant part of the story. I always talk to the managers as equals, or elevate myself slightly. I negotiate large (large) deals for my day job, so the hundred and fifty bucks I make at a gig is fun money, and I appreciate it, but arguing for much less than that is laughable. I'm not trying to make a living as a musician, but I hold myself to a high enough standard that I've made good money playing, and have no problem saying "no" or otherwise standing up for myself in a simple fee negotiation.

Club/venue owners, quite frankly, can shove it up their hind quarters. Those guys are mostly scumbag coke-heads in my experience (or worse). I'm much more concerned about the other musicians who think these a**holes are doing them a favor by "letting" them play in their club. This whole issue makes me frustrated. I hope those of you who are making a living doing this are doing it right. I wish you all the best!
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:01 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Re: Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician

Great article, Ian.

Anyway, they've found the answer to save them the trouble - gaming machines. Not only do the patrons stay and drink, they also provide donations all night ... and the machines generously refund 85c back for every dollar donated into the poker machine.

People don't need the arts any more ... they just want booze, gaming, sport, a job that turns them into an automaton, and to believe whatever shock jocks and Rupert Murdoch tell them.
Polly's rhythms
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:01 PM
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iwantmemoney iwantmemoney is offline
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Default Re: Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician

Key Point- "the crowd is following the band, not the venue". If venue owners who are huge still stick with that premise, they knock it out of the park. Because even the hippest venue can go down in flames without pretty consistent hand-picking the bands.

Having said that, it doesn't necessarily mean a pretty large percentage of any crowd is following a particular band for artistic reasons-not at all. The fact is that a lot of nightlife people are just alcoholics or future losers who like the atmosphere a certain band may create so they can have a nice environment in which to get f*!#'ed up. But at least it is live music, and the band must be pretty good to have won over the other members of the audience. And the really popular groups pay for themselves effortlessly at the door.
putting the funk in dysfunctional...
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:43 PM
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bermuda bermuda is offline
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Default Re: Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician

Every club/bar is different, and different bands will have different experiences there. Sometimes a given band will have different experiences. there are many factors at work with clubs, bands, and especially the patrons who ultimately support both.

I was going to read the article, and the instant I saw "Jazz musician Dave Goldberg" I stopped. Jazz is a whole other animal in terms of playing out, compared to a standard bar band or original band playing clubs. To apply jazz musiciain sensibilities/observations/frustrations to more mainstream genres/bands is unfair and obviously skewed. Different rules apply to different genres, in different venues, in different cities, in different countries.

Actually, I decided to read the highlights... most of them anyway... and the author presents a rather cynical, bitter, entitlement based viewpoint. I suppose it's the old labor-management battle on a very small scale.

It may be an amusing, even thought-provoking read, but don't take it as gospel. Be very careful about after-the-fact negotiations, and trying to tell a club-owner his business or how much value you possess to him. The assumption is that if there was any value, he'd know that up front when the booking and fees were agreed upon.

I've been playing clubs & bars in L.A. for over 35 years. Unless a band can genuinely write their own ticket, they pretty much take what they get. Negotiations are tricky because there are a dozen other bands willing to come in on a day's notice for the same money, so a band can't push their weight around, no matter how logical their argument may seem.

Again, a jazz player in L.A. is not indicative of the general music scene in L.A. or most other cities, nor is it comparable to the jazz scene in New York City for example.

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