Is live music dead?

opentune

Platinum Member
That mentality - "X is a public issue!" - is precisely what I'm talking about.

Anything can be made a "public issue". That's how Prohibition came into being. Now every restaurant has a calorie count next to every item they serve, because that's a "public health issue". Kids have to eat federally-regulated lunches in schools because that's a "public health issue".

There are many reasons music is dying. I would say the death of individualism can certainly be considered one of them.

As for the "you have a right to do X as long as it doesn't affect anyone" - that's simply untrue. You have the right to X unless there is a law against it, full stop. If what I do affects you, tough. Leave. I have just as much right to do legal things in public as you do not to.
I think its about consideration for others. There's plenty of research on 2nd-hand smoke, and extra info on a menu or at the grocery store doesn't sound bad to me (we don't have that where I live). But I'm not not going to sidetrack this thread any further.
 

geezer

Senior Member
In San Francisco we've seen lots of small to medium sized music venues close down, what with the whole "tech boom" here when leases run out and it's time to renegotiate many venues find that the landlord wants double or triple the rent. Generally if the venue closes down it's replaced by a high end restaurant or bar, not another music venue. Both the Independent and the Bottom of the Hill have the prospect of luxury condos being built right beside them, raising concerns about potential sound complaints from folks who will rent/buy them. There's also a rumor that another venue, The Hemlock Tavern, may go as a result of developers wanting to buy the entire block, knock it down and build, surprise surprise, luxury condos. I think the tech boom in SF is killing live music here, many musicians and artists can't afford to live here anymore.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
In San Francisco we've seen lots of small to medium sized music venues close down...I think the tech boom in SF is killing live music here, many musicians and artists can't afford to live here anymore.
Similar story in NYC, where real estate is fundamentally priced now for hedge fund salaries and bonuses. Chelsea, East village, soho, west 4th are no longer the hubs of little cultural revolutions. No artist can afford to live in the city anymore.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
In San Francisco we've seen lots of small to medium sized music venues close down, what with the whole "tech boom" here when leases run out and it's time to renegotiate many venues find that the landlord wants double or triple the rent. Generally if the venue closes down it's replaced by a high end restaurant or bar, not another music venue. Both the Independent and the Bottom of the Hill have the prospect of luxury condos being built right beside them, raising concerns about potential sound complaints from folks who will rent/buy them. There's also a rumor that another venue, The Hemlock Tavern, may go as a result of developers wanting to buy the entire block, knock it down and build, surprise surprise, luxury condos. I think the tech boom in SF is killing live music here, many musicians and artists can't afford to live here anymore.
That started happening years ago too in SF during the .com boom when some club owners found out they could make more money renting out their space to tech companies than from running a club.

Although San Francisco's scene never quite seemed the same after Nady closed down the Stone in the early 90's.

IS the Paradise Lounge still around? I used to hang there quite a bit before I moved to LA.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
It's a variety of factors.

1) Technology eliminated the need for many gigs. From when jazz and rock became a thing up through the 60's and into the 70's, bands could gig at strip clubs, dinner clubs, school dances, and really anywhere where someone wanted background music.

But the as modern stereos, speakers and DJ equipment improved, most of these gigs were eliminated. And face, no one went to a strip club or a dinner club for the band, they went for the experience, which could just as easily be made with piped in music. School dances found it easier and perhaps more entertaining, to have a DJ play top hits rather than a local band slog through cover tunes.

Even in my 20's in the 90's, I gigged at a ton of bars where it was pretty obvious the band was just in the background. The people sitting at the bar at the end of the night were the same people who were there drinking when we set up. They came for the alcohol and social factor, not because there was a band there. Sub in jukebox system, the bar saves money, and people still come to drink.

2) Karaoke. People who do go out to clubs often choose karaoke bars where they can sing along to pre-recorded tracks. No need for a band. There are a ton of people who visit karaoke bars 1 to 3 times a week without fail. This takes away from the people who feel the need to seek out live music.

3) The biggest factor, IMHO, is there is less of a reason for people to go out. It used to be if you wanted entertainment on a Friday/Saturday night, there wasn't much to do at home. You had a radio, a TV that is small by today's standards that got 3-4 channels, or maybe 20-30 with cable. VHS improved the home experience, but it was still SD format. People were just more motivated to go out.

Now, so many people have a large screen HD TV with surround sound audio, and it's connected to cabe/satellite/internet service that gives them 300-600 channels, plus movies on demand.

And where as video games used to be the realm of kids and teens, now there are more and more high definition realistic video games that appeal to adults. In addition, you can play them with other people via the internet, allowing people to "socialize" online without leaving the house.

All of this isn't just affecting music, but movie theaters have taken a big hit as well, because people just do not need to leave the house to be entertained.

Even if you love music, you can put on your favorite band's blue ray, on a large format TV with a killer audio system, and have a music experience at home.

3) Online dating. For many years, the primary reason to go to a club/bar was to meet a mate. Personal ads and online dating was considered somewhat taboo. Now, you can't turn on the TV without seeing an ad for an online dating site. It's now considered not only acceptable, it's moving toward becoming the primary way people meet. Which has eliminated a major motivation for people to go out to clubs/bars.


4) DUI laws. Many DUI laws didn't exist 20-30-40 years ago. And most DUI laws weren't as restrictive as they are today. My grandfather's friends used to have some funny and not so funny stories about going out, getting hammered, and driving home, because it just wasn't considered illegal, or a big deal back then. Even in recent years when they lowered the standard from .10 to .08, that impacted how people felt about going out.

5) And I agree the proliferation of pay-to-play or other systems where bands are not booked on quality. And because quality is not a factor, people get turned off from going to that venue, and opt for other things.

6) Youtube. There are so many hours of killer footage of all sorts of great bands online. You can find concert footage from the 60's, 70's, 80's, etc online.
Excellent analysis, DED!

Funny, usually I keep a safe distance from Open Mike nights ( either to listen or to play - too risky ), and yet I had an awesome night in your town ( Cafe Cordiyale ).

It was a really well run jam session by an entertainer musician, who kept things moving, had the crowd in the palm of his hand, knew when to call on which musician and when to nudge them off stage.

There were musicians and a fair number of other patrons in the house and everybody had a blast. How unusual is that.

Sometimes we just screw ourselves too, don't we! Sometimes we're just self indulgent noise makers who forget that we are there to exchange energies with an audience and yes, we are there to entertain.

...
 

geezer

Senior Member
That started happening years ago too in SF during the .com boom when some club owners found out they could make more money renting out their space to tech companies than from running a club.

Although San Francisco's scene never quite seemed the same after Nady closed down the Stone in the early 90's.

IS the Paradise Lounge still around? I used to hang there quite a bit before I moved to LA.
Nope, the Paradise closed down. Yeah, the tech boom is like the dot com boom but worse, much more money involved!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Sometimes we just screw ourselves too, don't we! Sometimes we're just self indulgent noise makers who forget that we are there to exchange energies with an audience and yes, we are there to entertain.

...
I've certainly been guilty of that in the dim & distant past. Taken the eye off the ball in favour of self gratification. I suspect we've all been guilty of that at one time or another.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I perform with a keyboard lady, she walks into a wine bar, sits at a piano and starts to play. The manager comes running over and says "you can play here any time you like". The live music scene is not dead, it's just picky.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
It's a variety of factors.

1) Technology eliminated the need for many gigs. From when jazz and rock became a thing up through the 60's and into the 70's, bands could gig at strip clubs, dinner clubs, school dances, and really anywhere where someone wanted background music.

But the as modern stereos, speakers and DJ equipment improved, most of these gigs were eliminated. And face, no one went to a strip club or a dinner club for the band, they went for the experience, which could just as easily be made with piped in music. School dances found it easier and perhaps more entertaining, to have a DJ play top hits rather than a local band slog through cover tunes.

Even in my 20's in the 90's, I gigged at a ton of bars where it was pretty obvious the band was just in the background. The people sitting at the bar at the end of the night were the same people who were there drinking when we set up. They came for the alcohol and social factor, not because there was a band there. Sub in jukebox system, the bar saves money, and people still come to drink.

2) Karaoke. People who do go out to clubs often choose karaoke bars where they can sing along to pre-recorded tracks. No need for a band. There are a ton of people who visit karaoke bars 1 to 3 times a week without fail. This takes away from the people who feel the need to seek out live music.

3) The biggest factor, IMHO, is there is less of a reason for people to go out. It used to be if you wanted entertainment on a Friday/Saturday night, there wasn't much to do at home. You had a radio, a TV that is small by today's standards that got 3-4 channels, or maybe 20-30 with cable. VHS improved the home experience, but it was still SD format. People were just more motivated to go out.

Now, so many people have a large screen HD TV with surround sound audio, and it's connected to cabe/satellite/internet service that gives them 300-600 channels, plus movies on demand.

And where as video games used to be the realm of kids and teens, now there are more and more high definition realistic video games that appeal to adults. In addition, you can play them with other people via the internet, allowing people to "socialize" online without leaving the house.

All of this isn't just affecting music, but movie theaters have taken a big hit as well, because people just do not need to leave the house to be entertained.

Even if you love music, you can put on your favorite band's blue ray, on a large format TV with a killer audio system, and have a music experience at home.

3) Online dating. For many years, the primary reason to go to a club/bar was to meet a mate. Personal ads and online dating was considered somewhat taboo. Now, you can't turn on the TV without seeing an ad for an online dating site. It's now considered not only acceptable, it's moving toward becoming the primary way people meet. Which has eliminated a major motivation for people to go out to clubs/bars.


4) DUI laws. Many DUI laws didn't exist 20-30-40 years ago. And most DUI laws weren't as restrictive as they are today. My grandfather's friends used to have some funny and not so funny stories about going out, getting hammered, and driving home, because it just wasn't considered illegal, or a big deal back then. Even in recent years when they lowered the standard from .10 to .08, that impacted how people felt about going out.

5) And I agree the proliferation of pay-to-play or other systems where bands are not booked on quality. And because quality is not a factor, people get turned off from going to that venue, and opt for other things.

6) Youtube. There are so many hours of killer footage of all sorts of great bands online. You can find concert footage from the 60's, 70's, 80's, etc online.
Good Analysis. Quello is like the Netflix for Music Concerts. People just stay home, not worry about DUI and other hassles and watch great music on a wide screen with killer audio that they control. The other thing is small-med sized restaurants / pubs want a solo or duo guitar / keyboard tucked tight in the corner as "background" music on Thurs nights. No stage, so more room for tables. More tables, more food/drink $$$. People can eat dinner and since volume low they can talk to each other, they can enjoy dinner plus Live background music. When dinner time over, later in evening, player can turn up volume. Much easier to manage for bar/pub owner. And less expensive. People happy. Places with dance floor, DJ fits the bill. In summer, Fall months, Festivals are the big trend upward from what I see. Bands can play outdoors and all are happy getting outdoors and enjoying live concerts. Also, each town has their "summer series" concerts on like Wed nights. Towns people enjoy setting up a lawn chair and kicking back listening to a good band. Winter months Quello concerts on the large screen in Living Room. I think is is all change in technology and economics. Sucks, yes...but personally I just accept and adapt - which means playing Cajon or Dejembe to accompany the single / duo guitar / keyboard players when they want a Rhythm lift. Low volume, easy transport. Sometimes just a snare, bass and hat with soft hits. In Summer, my band (amatuer) plays oudoor festivals and summer concerts series in various towns. Thats what I see... Also there might be the affect of musician supply and demand. Supply of good musicians has gone way up, demand for their services way down - with exceptions in some local areas. Blurring of Amatuer vs Pro bands. Yes some Amatuer bands suck and just noise makers, but there are a lot of really good Amatuer bands that have other professional day jobs and use music as a hobby / recreation. No money to be made, so its just for enjoyment. Many of these "Amateurs" were previously Pros that got out of business as an occupation. Which blurs Amateur vs Pro equation, with all kinds of expections... My thoughts...
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
That started happening years ago too in SF during the .com boom when some club owners found out they could make more money renting out their space to tech companies than from running a club.

Although San Francisco's scene never quite seemed the same after Nady closed down the Stone in the early 90's.

IS the Paradise Lounge still around? I used to hang there quite a bit before I moved to LA.
Where one club closes,another opens,

If you remember the old Leo's music store in Oakland,it folded about a year or two ago,but is now a pretty decent night club.

http://sf.eater.com/2013/7/25/6396563/leos-a-bar-music-venue-headed-to-oakland
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
I actually think there is another influence, the rise in tecno music. People want to dance and the tecno music has seen a big rise in following at least from my view. That music is provided easier, or better, by a DJ.

Thankfully St. Louis still has a lot of live music but i do see some venues dropping live music. It seems when they do it is tecno music from a DJ that replaces the live bands.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
I actually think there is another influence, the rise in tecno music. People want to dance and the tecno music has seen a big rise in following at least from my view. That music is provided easier, or better, by a DJ.

Thankfully St. Louis still has a lot of live music but i do see some venues dropping live music. It seems when they do it is tecno music from a DJ that replaces the live bands.
Replace that with Disco and that's the same literal argument from 1975. Music is cyclic.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I think the number of venues may be far less than they were when I started gigging 10-15 years ago, but the crowds are actually better. In my town there is a great live music venue that has local and touring bands 3 or 4 days a week. Having one live music venue in town may seem like a bad situation when 10 years ago there were like a dozen. But the reality is that it has become the place in town to be on a Saturday night. The sound is great, the beer is cheap and the bar is managed very well. There are nights when some good local bands are playing that there will be a few hundred people in the place.

Take it from a guy who plays 20 or so gigs a year live music is not dead, it is just living on a smaller scale.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Replace that with Disco and that's the same literal argument from 1975. Music is cyclic.
Yes it is true that music is cyclic but the technology has improved to the point that they are combining audio and video into a sensory experience that is almost overwhelming. Plus, most young men want to go where the girls are and the girls are on the dance floor.

Not only that but they (the DJ's) seem to be the ones pushing the envelope with rhythmic developments (ask JoJo Mayer).

Contrast that to most local bands with bad singers, cliche rhythms and melodies and minimal visuals.

But the cyclic nature of things will probably mean that people will get sick of the sonic assault and start looking for something with a little more meaning, perhaps.

Its up to the bands to give it to them.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
But the cyclic nature of things will probably mean that people will get sick of the sonic assault and start looking for something with a little more meaning, perhaps.

Its up to the bands to give it to them.
Dance music always gets a bad rap for being trite, but what better way to express your disdain for a sedentary and obese society? Salsa bands always attract a crowd, and you can fit three percussionists in the place of one drummer.
 

Seafroggys

Silver Member
Well there is good dance music, and "contemporary" dance music that dates itself. Salsa will always be timeless. When was the last time people got down to "The Hustle" at a club in a non-ironic way?
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I gave up seeing live bands and playing live myself. Every time my last band got the least bit arty audiences would switch off. All most seem to want is volume and danceable beats.

In Sydney, audiences seem to have little tolerance for anything that's not strictly mainstream and eclecticism seems to be largely squeezed out by a form of artistic rationalism. I've always preferred unusual, quirky and edgy music so the times do not suit me.
 

Acidline303

Senior Member
I actually think there is another influence, the rise in tecno music. People want to dance and the tecno music has seen a big rise in following at least from my view. That music is provided easier, or better, by a DJ.

Thankfully St. Louis still has a lot of live music but i do see some venues dropping live music. It seems when they do it is tecno music from a DJ that replaces the live bands.
Whats ironic is that when you visit DJ-centric boards you will find people who play many different forms of electronic music discussing how clubs that used to book their genres and audiences all went safe and have gone to guys playing presorted playlists of top 40 and commercial hip hop.

That sounds more like "venues stopped booking live acts and only book cover bands."

I think it's partially unfair to look at an audience packing an event consisting of house, techno (which practically no one in the states books anymore), breaks, ect and think "these people are my potential audience, why are they not at MY bands show?" Most of them weren't your crowd to begin with.

The people that do spill over probably decided they wanted to spend their $20-50 on an event that guarantees a good sound and light system in an environment less likely to involve people standing around trainspotting the music or doing anything other than being absorbed in it. Part of me wonders why more live bands aren't biting from the booking and promotional tactics of successful electronic music DJs and production companies.
 
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