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7 Reasons Why No One’s Coming To Your Shows

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1) You suck

Maybe you’re just not that good.  Sorry.  Most bands aren’t.  Most bands are starry eyed and spend more time bitching about the breaks they’re not getting than in the rehearsal space tightening their show.  Get good first.  Record your rehearsals AND your shows.  Do you LOVE listening to your live set?  If not, then why do you think other people will?

I’ve been in the room with bands who listen back to their shows recorded from the board and they actually hear how shitty they sounded.  How off key they sang.  How the bassist missed the bridge.  How the harmonies were off.  But they pass it off as a bad board mix.  This is sad.  Get your shit together.  Double your rehearsal schedule and double your at home practice time.

You do not deserve to be paid if you suck.  That’s what all these musicians who bitch about how little they are making at live shows miss.  Maybe they’re making nothing because they deserve to be paid nothing.

Stop making me pay to see your shitty band!

If you charge me $10 to come see you suck I’m going to be pissed and never pay again.

People tell me they hate live music.  It hurts my soul to hear this.  Live music can be spiritual.  But too often it’s a chore.  A burden.  A favor.  Because bands don’t take performing seriously enough to rehearse.

 

2) You Play Out Too Damn Often

Even if your favorite band played your city every week, you wouldn’t go see them.  You wouldn’t make it a priority because you could always just “catch the next one.”

If you’re great, you can charge a ticket price and people will happily pay.

Spread Out Your Shows
I recommend scheduling one big local show every 6-8 weeks. This gives you proper time to promote the show and get some good buzz going.

 

3) It’s Not An Event

You are not going to get a music reviewer to care about a 4 band bill show on a Wednesday night.  You should turn every show into an EVENT.  By spreading your shows out, you actually can come up with a theme and title for each show and make it a fun, talked about event.

Title Your Shows
I once organized and played a show in Minneapolis (when I was living there) called “The Unknown Order.”  I got together 3 other buzzing bands in the city (none of whom had sold out the acclaimed 800 cap Varsity Theater for any show prior).  The idea behind the show was that 10 minutes before the first band started, the emcee would pick a name out of a hat and that would be the first band to play.  No one (not even the bands) knew the order of the acts for the evening.  After each band finished, the emcee picked another name.

The idea was to get everyone to the club at the start of the show and to put all bands on an equal level – no headliners or openers.  The show sold out 10 minutes after doors opened and about 200 people got turned away.

4) You Aren’t Selling Advance Tickets

You always want to try to have advance tickets setup so you can encourage people to buy them and COMMIT to your show. Make them cheaper than the actual door price (if the venue allows this). If you can get hard tickets printed out, try to sell them or ask the local music stores to sell them. It gives people a fun activity to go pick up tickets to your show. But don’t pay to play! Don’t work with shady promoters who give you 50 tickets to sell and if you don’t, you have to pay the difference. This is different. This is working with the venue/promoter to have a packed show.

5) You Think The Venue Will Promote

So many bands believe it’s the venue’s responsibility to do 100% of the promotion for their show.  Just getting a show listed on a popular venue’s calendar will not bring people out.  You can’t expect venues to promote every show – they just have too many!  If 4 bands play their club every night, 6 nights a week, that’s 24 bands (or 6 shows) a week.  Similar to how if you played every week people (even your hard core fans) would stop caring, the venue’s loyalists aren’t going to come out every night of the week, or even most nights.

Venues put effort into the shows they know they can sell.  If you’re unestablished and unknown why should they put their efforts into promoting you.  Once you pack their club, the NEXT time you play, I bet they’ll put a bit more effort into promoting your show – like maybe announcing it on Facebook.  I’m sure you’ll at least get a Tweet!

 

6) You Rely Solely On Facebook

People are tired of Facebook events.  They get too damn many from too many friends they’ve lost touch with.  Of course, Facebook can be a great tool to add to your promo efforts, but it can’t be the ONLY tool you use.  Hit the promo from all angles: social media, print posters and flyers, press, radio, sponsorships (like local wine or beer companies are perfect).  Inviting all your friends to a Facebook event is only step one.

Print up physical promo materials such as posters and flyers.  We live in such a digitized world that receiving an invitation in the physical world is awfully refreshing, especially if it’s given to you by a friend.

 

7) You Aren’t Going Out Into The World

Weeks leading up to any big show make sure to go out more often.  Hit up local shows, big shows, bars, birthday parties that you normally wouldn’t end up attending.  Anything. J ust get out and talk to more humans in the physical world.  It will inevitably come up that you’re a musician (or if they know you they will ask you when your next show is) and you can whip out a flyer and personally invite them.

Don’t be sleazy about it.  You can do it in a conversational manner.  A personal invitation in person is incredibly effective.  Having a professional looking flyer legitimizes the show.  You could even follow up with them with a personal Facebook message, email or text message a couple days before the show to remind them (and it won’t seem completely out of the blue).

Step one is to be great, but if you are great then you deserve to play in front of packed houses!  Hopefully these 7 steps help bring you closer to a full-time music career.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter who’s played over 550 shows and is the creator of Ari’s Take.  Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

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Comments (250)
  1. steveh

    OMG Ari you are such a negative bastard!


    Reply
    1. GGG

      Truth hurts.


      Reply
      1. Monsta Ward

        And sometimes it feels REAL GOOD!


        Reply
      2. Loren

        It’s only “negative” if it ain’t true. :)

        I’ve been at this for a dozen years or so, and I’ve made most of these mistakes at one point or another. On the plus side, I’m getting better.


        Reply
    2. hippydog

      Sometimes people need the ‘tough love’ :-)


      Reply
    3. David Downs

      I would not call this negative. It has some negattive sounding wording, but it also offers actual positive solutions. Negaitivity is just being negative without resolution. This offers resolution, so it is more than that.


      Reply
    4. Growup

      Oh please. Not negative at all. Realistic. Crappy bands ruined the NYC scene, for one. All this hipster poseur bullshit. This is real advice for real musicians who want real work. The rest is, as stated, facebook fluff.


      Reply
    5. Poo

      OMFG! Stop using internet abbreviations and stop being a hippie


      Reply
      1. steveh

        Hey Poo – you’re shit doesn’t stink or what?


        Reply
      2. Dee

        OMFG is an internet abbreviation.


        Reply
        1. the kattywumpus

          LOL Dee that was a good one.


          Reply
    6. Precipice

      The good news is there are cures for shitty bands if somebody has the courage to risk being mistaken for an asshole just for saying the truth. :) just saying.


      Reply
    7. Larry Torres

      no one heard a word ,,,,sorry


      Reply
  2. Thanks

    Nailed it.

    Thanks Ari!


    Reply
  3. The Doodler

    You forgot that as the value of music plummets to zero. People don’t even want to pay for a live show. Rock stars aren’t rock stars anymore. They’re annoying whining toddlers, who think they are still rock stars. Who wants to pay to see that live?


    Reply
    1. GGG

      People don’t want to pay for a live show? Have you seen ticket prices lately? Or festival attendance?


      Reply
      1. Ari Herstand

        GGG beat me to it! Yeah, the live concert industry top to bottom is doing alright.

        “Overall, Billboard calculated gross ticket sales worldwide at a record $4.8 billion, an increase of 30% over the previous year and 9% above the existing record of $4.4 billion posted in 2009. Billboard’s report suggests that the downturn in concert revenue of a few years ago “now appears to be an anomaly” and that “four years later, all signs point toward continued growth.”


        Reply
          1. Tina Anderson

            The value of music never plummets, it’s the integrity of mankind that tends to take a downfall..


            Reply
            1. the kattywumpus

              Well said. The value of music cannot be determined using monetary units of measurement.


              Reply
        1. annon

          Ari, i don’t disagree with most of the points you make about self-promoting but are you seriously gonna pull out the billboard stats of concert sales against and use it to prove that live music in the local/indie scene (and when i say indie i DON’T mean a musician like, just to use as an example CAT POWER)is on the rise. Do you actually believe that it relates to the public going to see LOCAL live music in small venues. I’m sorry but that is a very short-sight comparison and is like comparing Jupiter’s weather patterns to Earth’s just because they both happen to be planets. Those Billboard stats only pertain to musicians who are playing in those leagues.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            Well, if you’re going to point to the band only bringing 15 people to a venue that holds 150, then sure, the live industry is shitty. That’d just be silly, though.


            Reply
        2. annon

          1


          Reply
        3. Rcs

          EDM shows are probably the main factor that contributed to this growth


          Reply
      2. Growup

        They aren;t paying to see music. They;re paying to go gawk at someone they’ve been forced to endure 1000s of times. Hero worship nonsense. Sure it’s doing well, but I’d rather have loyal, devated spiritually musical fans than the hipster ‘see me now’ crowd. They go to concerts, shriek along with every song so you couldn;t even hear the production if you tried. It’s not about the performance, it’s about ‘ME”!


        Reply
        1. IZA

          Listen, different kinds of artists have different kinds of fans. Some are the screaming “hero worship” types while some are the “spiritually devoted” types. Different fans for different bands. No big deal. If you’re not getting the “type” of fan you want at your shows, who the hell cares? Did they pay to get in? Did they buy some of your recordings? Do you want to make a living making music? If you do, beggars can’t be choosers. If you want to make a living making music, your fans (shitty or otherwise) are the people who pay your salary. Embrace and love them. Or at least respect them. If you think your fans are shitty, maybe your music is shitty. Maybe you yourself are shitty. I don’t mean “you” personally, by the way. Speaking in general terms.


          Reply
        2. GGG

          You realize there’s more than just hipsters and tweens in the world, right? And you realize there’s more music than hipster band du jour and pop star du jour, right?

          I think you need to get out more and go see more shows.


          Reply
      3. joAnna

        Right?! We tried to go see the Tedeski Trucks band tonight and it was sold out at $80 a ticket.


        Reply
    2. JulezSC

      GOLD:) and spot on:)


      Reply
      1. GGG

        Actually, not spot on at all. He’s factually incorrect, actually.


        Reply
        1. PG

          No, he isn’t. You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you worked in the industry, you’d see the truth in this.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            Uhh…I do work in the industry. Plenty of worthwhile, well promoted shows get sold out or at least get healthy numbers. And plenty of them are sold at absurd prices.

            Not to mention the article Ari linked to, which uses actual numbers to back me up.

            So…what part of the industry do you work in again? Janitorial?


            Reply
  4. Nathan

    This might be the best one yet Ari. If not it’s certainly up there.


    Reply
  5. Kari

    This hit the nail on the head. Great article Ari!


    Reply
  6. Dan Rodriguez

    Nailed it. This is good. Let’s bring back the unknown order to Minneapolis!


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      YES!


      Reply
  7. Nick Shattuck

    Yes! I love #1 and I’m guilty of #7.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Showing goes a long way to help your social phobia, Nick. <3


      Reply
    2. Ari Herstand

      Showering goes a long way to help your social phobia, Nick. <3


      Reply
  8. Dan Hylton

    Not only are people tired of Facebook events, they don’t see them. Since December ’13, Facebook is absolutely throttling viewership of any event that isn’t backed by paid-for promotion.


    Reply
    1. Wicasta Lovelace

      Facebook is useless as a marketing tool unless you have bucks to spend on ads to promote. Otherwise, nobody sees it. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone even talks about Facebook as a marketing too for musicians now. Unless you have deep pockets and an advertising budget, no one hears you except the handful of people who directly engage with you. So you’re dead-on, Dan.


      Reply
  9. fuckyou

    fuck this guy.. im sorry you should pay to see a live band.. yeah most suck.. but you wanna go see live bands then pay something to do it. you cheap fucking bastard. i dont come to your job and say im not paying you to suck cock


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      I had to suck a lot of cock for free in my early days to get to the premium price I charge now.


      Reply
      1. Joe

        Actually an Ari show is better than a backroom BJ. But I’m sure this original poster must have a VERY successful band with that attitude .. “most bands suck, you should pay to see them live” Absolutely moronic. “This doctor kills most patients, you should pay him to operate on you”. Yup .. sure.


        Reply
      2. the kattywumpus

        Great response… Truly, cracked me up. Will have to read more of your writing, I like your style.


        Reply
    2. u mad bro?

      the butthurt is strong with this one.


      Reply
    3. GGG

      Someone clearly can’t read well. And is also an idiot.


      Reply
  10. Alex Fry

    This article is hard hitting common sense mixed with what sounds like the same rhetoric these fraud promoters like gorilla music use… with the advance tickets.. but i doubt this is the same case .. this is just an article, and advanced tickets could be made and sold independently of course.. so the tickets things is a good idea if you made your own and your not selling tickets for a promoter who;s show you got sucked into playing.. this is a hidden rule that should go on this list.. STAY AWAY from multi bands shows ran by “promoters” .. if your music is good enough to play live for people.. you should book your own stuff with the venue itself and not through a promoter group.. those guys will ass rape your pay.. you can sell 100 tickets and 10 dollars a piece and end up giving them half or more.. thats over 500 bucks in hard earned money you lose to them just because you took a gig they already set up and other wise had no acts to play, and made you do all the footwork for.it, and pay them all that money.. if you book your own independent shows with the venue itself.. you can work out pay with the owner/manager directly, you can set who plays with you if anyone, and you can command the advertising for the event you have created yourself.. people will recognize that a person put the time into making music first, then finding a good band to work with, then doing all the hard business themselves, and putting the show together themselves, etc etc.. especially record producers, and such.. mangers and talent scouts for actual labels.,. those are the only guys you really want to work for outside of that.. on another note.,. if your music sucks and you expect me to come see it.. i aint paying.. and i probably wont stay that long .. if i did pay, it was to see the band you are getting in the way of me seeing , and at the moment you are playing ill show it a minor amount of love cause im nice but right after that…. im out back smoking weed with them, and working on getting a show together with them..
    nuff said..


    Reply
    1. Clark

      That’s called paying your dues too many local bands nowadays just wein way too much.


      Reply
  11. Roga

    I think this has some valid points but I feel that knowing who to play to is extremely important to the you suck factor. I mean I have seen many talented acts literally get booed solely because they weren’t in thier element an frankly poor musicians who fit in to the cult following they established getting phenomenal praise. You can suck and make a living like a lot of pro bands and be prodigies only to have 15 people show up to your show.


    Reply
    1. IZA

      Indeed! I once went to a White Zombie show just so I could see The Reverend Horton Heat open. His set lasted about 20 minutes. The death stares, booing and “who the hell is this fag” (actual comment overheard by yours truly) comments from the White Zombie demographic created a pretty hostile environment. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to match these two acts, but I hope they were fired.


      Reply
      1. frankinstink

        YESSS!!! I can’t tell you how many of these local ” hardcore” acts get so much praise simply because they’re riding a trendy scene. The musicianship and songwriting are mediocre at best, while bands with great skill are being snubbed. It’s a combination of things really.


        Reply
  12. euria

    No he really is not Steve he is absolutely right and honest and some people actually need to take a look at this


    Reply
  13. Conscientious Objector

    Can you introduce me to the person that told you they “hate live music”, please? I would love to slap them in the face.


    Reply
    1. adolph goldstein

      i only enjoy live music if it’s someone i want to see. otherwise, it’s tedious and annoying.


      Reply
      1. Kenneth

        Awe, you poor bastard. Try catching a show once in a while with a band you never even heard about. Sometimes you’ll have one hell of a splendid evening :)


        Reply
  14. OK

    Show me a venue in Europe that does proper promotion. ONE. VENUE. IN THE WHOLE EUROPEAN UNION.


    Reply
    1. Anders Cold

      Most Danish venues of a certain size do a pretty good job of promoting their concerts. Sure, there are lazy bastards who don’t, but it all comes around and slaps the venues in the ass in the form of missing out on bar revenue.


      Reply
    2. actually europe rules

      great post by ari, but agreed that Billboard statistics mean nothing. to the contrary, in my experience, most of the time, europe is way better than the US for concerts. a lot of *decent/good* folk acts from the states actually only “make it” once they go/move to europe. it’s a very common trend for many artists, look into it. why is that? here’s what i’ve observed:

      it starts with government. many european countries actually subsidize their music venues so that the venues can book whoever they believe in booking, not just the “biggest name”. this and other factors make it so that the live music culture in europe is significantly and genuinely more appreciative, especially if you’re coming from the states. “culture” means the venues, promoters, and general public – the entire concert ecosystem. my band showed up in towns we’d never even heard of to play gigs that we just booked through email, with no idea what to expect. obviously we had done zero direct promotion of our own in these places.

      none of ari’s billboard statistics will make any sense to most of us musicians who don’t give a shit about billboard, but maybe this example will:

      we were in beautiful almelo, netherlands. the venue let us know when we showed up for soundcheck hours before the gig that the show was sold out. yes, it was an intimate small venue, around 70 people, but all paying and enjoying listening to a group they’d never heard of and who had not promoted to them at all. we were received so incredibly well – great food, drink, standing ovations at the end, getting paid, and an offer to come back for a festival gig the following summer. all of this is nearly unheard of in the states, and we’ve played a lot of shows and toured in the states as well. the venues and promoters and general public are way more jaded here (as many of you are demonstrating in your comments) and frankly, it has to change, because a lot of good musicians who really put the work in are not even bothering with most of these venues and promoters anymore.

      so, enjoy the shitty music that is being booked by the middlemen who truly don’t care about the actual music (from direct correspondence, i know to be a straight up FACT in most venues in LA, but it’s maybe the most notorious for this, other places are better), the middlemen who continue to refuse entry to musicians who are too busy working on the actual music to bother elbowing and rat racing their way into these shitty US gigs.

      no worries, we’ll just be chillin in amsterdam and touring around to venues that care to book quality.


      Reply
  15. Anonymous

    ALL OF THIS WORKS!! Flyers & postering at the home club of the event & schedule flyers EVERYWHERE in addition to FB plus getting your face out there works!!! A bunch of lazy shits in this world!!! http://www.facebook.com/theozzmancomethphilly for OUR full schedule, pics & videos!!!


    Reply
  16. X

    “You can’t expect venues to promote every show” I have a problem with this. A venue should promote everything they present not just the big shows that will sell. If not only have the shows that will sell. Bands have to do their part but if the venue doesn’t care why should anyone else, bands or patrons?


    Reply
    1. timdog

      Jello… this you?????


      Reply
    2. GGG

      You’re not wrong, they absolutely should. The problem is they just don’t do it, so when a show fails they can blame it on everyone but themselves.


      Reply
    3. WAREHOUSESTEVE

      Bands can help venues promote by providing high rez versions of CD artwork, photos, logos, etc. As a venue owner, I always end up promoting the bands that send me stuff to work with more than bands that require to go out searching the internet for band artwork. Make it easy for a venue/promoter to do their job, and not only will you get better promotion, you are more likely to be rebooked.


      Reply
  17. Stevi

    So much yes. Especially #7. I get so annoyed with musicians who do nothing and say they’re too old, too tired, too busy, too anything to go out, and I just think, so why should I go out of my way to see you? And even more, why should I drag my friends out? If someone supports me or my friends at our events then I’ll support them without a second thought because it doesn’t feel like a chore. I’ve tried to explain this to musician buddies, and they don’t seem to get it, so I’m glad someone else sees it. On the other hand, if someone’s music is really great then I’ll go see them either way, but they need to be Damn good.


    Reply
    1. studiotubes

      You are so right about this. As the lead singer/guitarist of my band I have found most of the people at our shows are people that I met at some other band’s show. I make friends on my own by being up front and starting conversations. Most people appreciate the fact you want to speak with them, they like the attention. They come to our shows because they know me now. If you mix well with regulars and venue staff, owners recognize it and want you back. You have to work new places.


      Reply
  18. Rockdog

    Great article Ari. I’m 61 years old and (still) playing in a rock/blues/covers band in Australia but the same rules apply. The live music my band provides is supposed to get people INTO the clubs we play at. We’re supposed to be an attraction not a deterrent. We need make ourselves into something people are going to want to crawl out from behind there big screen TVs and go and see.


    Reply
    1. redback

      Hang on ..I’m 61 and play in rock blues in Australia too…I especially agree with point one in the article. Lots of laziness around…they days when somebody moaning over a 12 bar and knocking out the same old licks and expecting to be admired are gone..I actually find a lot of the younger musos a lot less pretentious and more humble.


      Reply
  19. trex

    I know a young band (17 and 18 yeas old) with a great live show.

    The problem is that I don’t think older bands :
    1 – want to play with younger groups because it’s “not cool”
    2 – or they don’t want to be shown up

    There aren’t enough decent young bands to have their own scene.

    Any thoughts?


    Reply
    1. Normal

      1 – a really good older band , secure with their with their own talent, would – and appreciate the talent of the young band.

      2 – refer to #1


      Reply
  20. Normal

    We live in smaller city, 50,000. My husband has played acoustic, bass and keyboard, whatever is needed for about 30 years. Had a few lessons when young. Fortunately, has much natural talent. Venues limited, bars, private parties, etc. Whether or not your band sucks does, in large part, depend on your audience and their preference. At this point he’s known as “a hand.” Plays regularly in two bands, keys in a 5 piece country, bass in a 3 piece rock/metal. Also perfect pitch, great lead vocals in either, and any harmonies. Fills in for several other bands when available. There are many younger players/bands on our scene. Rehearsal is definitely necessary at that point. Band has to be tight, players must respect and trust each other. Some here think they can make a living playing music. With very few exceptions, they’re wrong. Day job necessary. #7 most important for him, fortunately. He plays for the love of playing – and does it well. Never plays for free, certainly would never pay to play. And will not go to a club having an open jam – free entertainment for the club. Any time I hear that a band, or a player sucks, I want to tell that person to get an instrument, take lessons, even vocal, and get up there yourself!!!


    Reply
  21. Trinidad

    OMG Ari you are such a realistic bastard!


    Reply
  22. uncle kev

    Ari…..you sound like somebody who wishes they played an instrument or even wished to be in a band.


    Reply
  23. timdog

    Im gona be sharing this link on facebook for my boy Dave Coop AKA Elwood. His band is the badest old school punk band in the SoCal area right now. Check out Repeat Offenders for your self you’re gona be glad you did!


    Reply
    1. timdog

      And by badest I meen badass. They kick fucking ass what else do I gota tell you.get off your ass and check it out


      Reply
      1. PG

        Spamming a friends band on the comments section? You may have missed the point of the article.


        Reply
        1. ODB

          … or is he promoting!!


          Reply
  24. some guy

    One of the golden rules of the music industry is to take criticism and this article was very helpful because the real world is an ugly place we all have to be strong, stand on our feet and get back up every time we fall down.


    Reply
  25. rushdan waheed

    Most bad spend more time fibbling and fubbling through song during rehearsal than actually just jamming feeling and vibing off one another.


    Reply
  26. Anonymous

    He is not being negative, he is telling the truth. Most young people think they are better than they are and that everything will just fall into place because their band is sooo good when they really don’t practice enough….looking the part does not make you good. The odds of actually making it are astronomical, which means that even on a local level you MUST put in the work, have talented people and practice until you can nail every song in your sleep!!


    Reply
  27. Jack

    What the F is a DIY musician?? The entire nature of being a musician is that you do it… yourself. I’ve heard this term thrown around a lot, especially in Chicago, and it is really lame. I would reconsider calling yourself a DIY musician. It makes me think you are a smug trust-fund kid in a hardcore band that sucks.


    Reply
    1. Jack

      And if by “DIY” you mean you aren’t backed by a label or professional management company, then welcome to the 21st century. You and 99.6% of other musicians are DIY.


      Reply
      1. GGG

        That is what it means, stupid or not. Major = backed by major label, indie = backed by indie label, DIY = unsigned.


        Reply
  28. Xtine

    Hi, Festival Style Band Nights with multiple bands playing which are organized by promoters are worthwhile to play because not every band can fill a house, but multiple bands that can draw can fill the house, pulling together. That way everyone gets to play to a packed house. The promoter also may have contacts which you don’t have (they specialize in this) and can find bands that match the theme of the event, using their reputation to pull them into the event. It’s worth paying half the money to the promoter, IF THEY ARE SINCERE ABOUT BUILDING THE SCENE (and not just stealing money from bands, I’ve seen this type of promoter and I agree- do NOT play for them). Promoters have intimate knowledge of the cities they work in, the venues, the proper dates and what band to put on what nights. They study the calendar each month of all the venues in the city and make sure there are no conflicts. They also pay out of the money they receive for advertising, flyers, etc and spend many hours a week online and in person advertising the show. They work very hard for the bands they book and deserve a share of the $ from the show.


    Reply
  29. Sundrop

    They should have an number 8 an it says Why pay high prices at the door for shitty talent.


    Reply
  30. Jeff w/horn

    Great stuff here! I recently quit a band because of #1. Great group of guys with lots of creativity, but nobody wanted to actually REHEARSE or listen to recordings of our shows critically. One of our last conversations went something like “The keys and guitars weren’t playing the same progression through the bridge. We put that out in front of a live audience. We completely train-wrecked at least one other tune. Isn’t anyone else embarrassed by this???” To which the reply was “You’re over-reacting man, people love us! Let’s work on some new material”. Well, i hope they continue to enjoy playing in for 30 disinterested people in a shitty dive bar. The future is now!


    Reply
    1. Wailin Ray

      The old adage”put good in, get good out” REALLY applies here! The lackadaisical attitude of so-called “professional” as to rehearsal,promotion,arrangements,etc..is a MAJOR reason for shitty turn-outs! If you as a musician,deem any of the above listed items as unimportant or too much trouble,DO SOMETHING ELSE!


      Reply
  31. Sam

    Another problem – you don’t have actual fans, you just have family and friends. They don’t care about your MUSIC, they care about YOU. So they show up out of duty or pity once in awhile and because you always see people at your shows, you don’t realize that your band has an actual fanbase that’s impossibly small.

    If you post amusing memes to Facebook and get 100 likes, then post an actual show and see your mom, grandmom and 2 friends click “going”, your band has a major problem.


    Reply
  32. CODE

    This is dead on. I remember the first time my band was about to go on tour, and we had a tour manager help get our live show together. We had to practice for fucking HOURS, and immediately following shows he would tell us what sucked and what we needed to tighten up on. It really helped us grow as musicians. Step one of heading in the direction of being good is admitting you suck.


    Reply
  33. V.

    I totally agree.

    I am a hobbyist musician, and I quit playing live when I realized my music (especially live) sucks.

    Now I can concentrate more on my studio work and make finally something good.


    Reply
  34. JulezSC

    Brilliant :) Times have Changed. To many people think that because they pick up a musical instrument and write a so called original composition that the world should come running. Also the music industry should of of been renamed the media Industry in 87:) The only real benefactors of what is left of our amazing industry is the Alcohol companies which reek the benefits and hide behind certain national chains. Some change is really needed.


    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    Don’t get me started!!!!!! SELF PROMOTION IS KEY!!!! DON”T LEAVE YER SUCCESS UP 2 OTHERS!!!! GET YER FRIENDS & FAMILY INVOLVED… IF THEY WON”T HELP U… GET A NEW FAMILY & CIRCLE OF FRIENDS!!!! There R 2 many more 2 mention here… But if any1 REALLY WANTS HELP… MESSAGE ME!!!! I’M HERE TA HELP U NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I DID STARTING OUT!!!! SERIOUSLY !!!! ;-)


    Reply
  36. Red

    “You suck” is not a helpful statement. It makes me want to disregard the rest of the article’s actually helpful advice. What kind of “suck” are you talking about? I have hipster friends that say the Phish and the Grateful Dead suck, or hippies that say the Dead Kennedys and the Sex Pistols suck. Are they correct, or maybe just correct in their personal opinion that they find no value or entertainment in them? A better statement might be that the band needs to determine who their audience is instead of just playing Fred’s Beer Barn or The Hipster Scene showcase because it’s easy/expected/ convenient.


    Reply
  37. s

    don’t talk like you need $50


    Reply
  38. Lala44621

    You must not play out in the real world…. first off, the band doesn’t decide if a venue charges an admission.
    Secondly you contradict yourself in complaining about having to pay to see a band, then telling bands they don’t pre-sell enough tickets.
    We don’t all live in large metropolitan areas- some of us play as we can because our choices are few.
    Get a grip dude.


    Reply
  39. Lawrence

    If you consider this offensive, you’re probably the drummer in a band that “you know, doesn’t, like, you know, necessarily have a genre, you know? Its kind of, like, its own thing, and, you know, assigning labels, like, totally ruins the image, you know?”

    Ever since the 60’s most celebrities have only existed because rich people think this person will be a marketably decent role model who might distract people from things like war, poverty, and disease. Musicians are pretty easily marketable, and once “acts” like Skrillex and Miley Cyrus got “famous”, everyone thinks they have a right to be famous as well.

    If fame can be achieved without talent, people without talent will feel entitled to fame. There’s a very fine line between pessimism and reality here.


    Reply
  40. gordon raphael

    very interesting, smart and useful insights!
    I will take your advice!


    Reply
  41. GR

    The guy who wrote this probably owns a bar/venue or is a promoter. So, it is what works for him. The above is only making his job easier. Problem is, he is the one promoting these “shitty” bands. Most booking agents/promoters are the first ones at fault for throwing “shitty” music out into the community. Look at your roster before you start throwing stones. Also, since when is it ok for someone who probably doesn’t play music to judge other bands. Most “shitty” bands know that they have things to work on, yet they probably have a day job and doing it for fun. While they are at their day job making a lot more money and being way more productive then this guy, he is sitting at home writing about “the rules of the music industry”. The folks who feed into his rants are just as bad. I agree that not everyone on the block has what it takes to make it to the big leagues, but you cant kick them in the balls for trying. One more thing that you have actually probably noticed that you failed to mention……Most “green” bands or guys that are trying but just cant get it right, usually have the biggest crowd, because they do promote more as they are excited about it. They usually have the largest local draw. Sometimes it works out that way. I am assuming you are talking about “green” bands or start up bands, because lord knows there are several bands touring right now I wouldn’t spend $5 on to see because of my favorable genre of music, however that doesn’t mean they aren’t talented, plus they are making way more money than you, I am sure of. So instead of kicking some bands in the knees, why don’t you provide good advice. Because above, is not good advice. Sounds like an immature promoter who is speaking what he thinks is right, regardless of your success. You been there and may still be there. Promoters need the band……Think about that. Onward.


    Reply
    1. C Bret Campbell

      The guy that wrote that comment doesn’t know the first darn thing about having a clue…
      Ari Seth Herstand (born June 1, 1985) is an American singer-songwriter, actor, and blogger based in Los Angeles, California (previously Minneapolis, Minnesota) who specializes in live-looping of the guitar, piano, trumpet, vocals, and percussion.
      Herstand is popular in the United States where he has played at Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI and the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX, as well as Carnegie Hall.[1][2] He has played with various major artists including Ben Folds, Cake, Sister Hazel, Phil Vassar, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, and the Ron Pope.[2][3][4] His music has been played on popular TV shows such as The Real World,[5] One Tree Hill,[6] The Real L Word,[7] and The Hard Times of RJ Berger.[8]
      He is known on television for his co-starring roles in 2 Broke Girls, Touch, The Fosters, and Sam & Kat
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ari_Herstand

      Bitch some more, when your list of credits and accomplishments is close. Until then, I’ll take Ari’s advice


      Reply
      1. Roshambo72

        Meh. . . honestly, more than anything, Ari is incredibly gifted at self-promotion. He knows how to play all the instruments listed, and knows how to loop all the instruments listed, but if you asked the upper echelon of Twin Cities artists about him, you’re likely to get maybe three responses – 1) They’ve never heard of him, 2) He’s an okay musician at best, and 3) His relentless self-promotion and bandwagon jumping grows tedious. (We’re talking about a guy who wrote a song called “Do Ask Do Tell” for crying out loud.) Frankly, anyone can play Summerfest or SXSW, it’s the kind of thing that looks great on paper but is meaningless in real life. And there’s a difference between “opening for” and “playing with” regarding all of those artists. Honestly, everything he’s accomplished to this point is commendable, but it doesn’t necessarily earn him any more right to post this stuff.


        Reply
        1. studiotubes

          Right on brother! Not to discredit him though, there are some points to heed here. Opening with “you suck” really turns people away from the salient points.


          Reply
  42. Mike Minehart

    Ari, stop hiding in LA, come back, and do The Unknown Order 2 show already. C’mon.


    Reply
    1. Time

      I’m very leery of Government supported air time and television show as it can be co opted and propagandized and will cause the lock out of artist that speak against that government like the way people are now afraid of criticizing google and Facebook out of a hidden blacklist by them and the NSA. Art and commerce is enough leave government out please they are the bad guys.


      Reply
  43. OzIndo

    In Australia there are basically 2 ways bands get known. By word of mouth including social media & doing gigs. Nearly impossible to get airplay if you’re not a finalist in Idol, X Factor or Got Talent. Commercial media is no longer in Australian hands. 80%+ of the music seems to be coming from the USA & G B. Then there’s the K Pop time slots paid for by SBS South Korea which is extremely well marketed. Our government doesn’t support our industry. We have no National tv programs promoting live music but do have a few on community channels which have a limited audience.
    Indonesia has between 200 & 300 hours a week devoted to their music industry across their free to air tv channels which has resulted in a thriving industry providing a lot of great music in all genres. As with K Pop, you must look past the fact most of the lyrics are not in English.
    I think the government of Australia & the media owners should look at the South Korean & Indonesian examples & try to follow their successful , proven methods.


    Reply
  44. Monica Earthling Power

    Though I agree with nearly all of this, I disagree with the part about playing out every week. I do go see my favorite band at their weekly gig. The stability allows them to be truly comfortable in the space and play any song in their extensive original repertoire. Having a weekly gig also provides a home base, a place for fans of the band to gather regularly or see each other once in a while, and for people to seek out the band once the buzz reaches them. They keep the crowd fresh by inviting different local bands to open the show, having theme nights, birthday parties, and guest musicians. If you’re in Buffalo NY on a Thursday, go to the Tudor Lounge and ask if Whiskey Reverb is playing. You won’t be disappointed.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      That’s a great point! There are bands who do very successful ‘residencies’ at single venues and I suppose I should have mentioned that. A residency is definitely a great way to build a regular ‘hang.’


      Reply
  45. Anonymous

    Perfect. I can’t wait to share.


    Reply
  46. Every Band

    7 Reasons Why You Are a Terrible Writer.

    1) You Suck: You’re pandering to the lowest common denominator by using hyperbole and sensationalism. to generate article hits.

    2) You Write Too Damn Often: You actually believe people want to hear what you have to say! Such Narcissism!

    3) You’re Not a Journalist: Once you and people like you quit poisoning the well, other writers with tact, nuance, and strength of character will rise to replace you. You will be forgotten and you can go right back to serving us coffee.

    4) You Aren’t Selling Advance Tickets Either: Do your fucking job and promote the scene that feeds you. Stop wasting your time with these garbage articles that serve to slander the scene.

    5) You Think The Bands Will Give a Shit: Do you really think any of us care what you think?

    6) You Rely Solely On The Internet: People are tired of blogs. In fact, you have to write articles like this just to keep people engaged. You might as well make a sex tape.

    7) You Aren’t Going Out Into The World: If you were, you would know that there are tons of amazing bands in every market. Taking your time to focus your vitriol on weaker bands only shows that you aren’t really ready to write about good music. A good writer avoids arguments that are beneath them.

    Step one is to be great, but if you are great then you deserve to write for and about the craft. Hopefully these 7 steps help bring you closer to being a legitimate journalist!


    Reply
    1. GGG

      For someone who doesn’t care what Ari thinks, you spent an awfully long time thinking of and typing this response.


      Reply
  47. joe mango

    I agree with most of your points, but as a sound engineer I must take issue with your ‘unknown order’ concept. Your sound tech for the evening must have hated your ass for that one, unless you were sharing all the gear amongst bands and had no monitors. Sounds like a nightmare. Glad it worked out for you but I hope you tipped your techs.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      We backlined the show. How is this any different than a normal 4 band bill night? Those happen all the time. We all sound checked.


      Reply
  48. Marc

    Right on target, for the most part. #1 is something that a lot of bands have got to understand. But I think Ari goes too far with it in one sense. He doesn’t go far enough in another sense. First, bands deserve to get paid even if they suck. I go to a restaurant, get a burrito, and it sucks. Shouldn’t I still pay up? Maybe no tip, and perhaps I should never go back. But I should still pay for that burrito, even if I know if may suck, and actually does. There’s a lot of overhead for bands. Also, bars look for any excuse not to pay the band. This just makes it easier for bars to exploit no-name bands. Second, what I consider shitty, you might not. Lot of people love the Chili Peppers and will pay a lot of money to see them, but Anthony can’t sing worth a shit. You want to sit in a sound booth and tell me the performance is even close to the recording?


    Reply
    1. Lefsetz II

      Exactly.

      We should both go eat at McDonalds and have a conversation about how quality and compensation are linked.

      You in?


      Reply
  49. Lefsetz II

    “You do not deserve to be paid if you suck.”

    Do you really see consistent evidence to support that? Of course not, there is none. People suck and get paid all the time. The Cleveland Browns invalidate your post, but there are so many. Matthew McConaughey…Ice Cube as an actor…etc.

    Trans Siberian Orchestra, One Direction, any Broadway show… do they “suck,” or are you just not in their demo? That’s the lesson of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Internet. (Or life.)

    At least consider the possibility that: 8) YOU’RE FISHING IN THE WRONG WATER

    You ever watch the “Blues Brothers” movie where they play the country bar behind the chicken wire fence and get pelted with bottles? Did they suck? I mean, Steve Cropper was in the band: http://youtu.be/RdR6MN2jKYs

    I’m all for calling out shitty bands, but how about calling out lazy writing? And needlessly crapping on musicians. That’s what Bob Lefsetz is for.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Hold up! Matthew McConaghey?! Have you seen Dallas Buyers Club or Wolf of Wall Street? He deserves an Oscar.

      But moving on, too many here are using the symmetric property of equality for my You Suck point. This is not Geometry class and that doesn’t work. No one is claiming that IF the show is empty THEN the band must suck. I’m saying that MAYBE the reason no one is at your show is BECAUSE you suck. They’re mutually exclusive.


      Reply
  50. Anonymous

    duh.


    Reply
  51. Lee

    A lot of people are sharing this piece and I find it rather smarmy and disingenuous. But it is worth pointing out that the writer does play mostly college shows (probably a NACA member) that are FREE shows and he gets paid regardless of attendance. But mainly they have a built-in audience. I’m not knocking how he makes his bread, but it’s not a be all column on the what’s and why’s of live music.

    My reply…

    1) You suck

    I have a hard time believing that some of the GREAT music I’ve seen “sucks”. I know a lot of musicians personally and I have even been to shows of GREAT music that no one attended only to see them PACK the house 3 months later after some media exposure. It’s negating that “suck” is objective. I saw Sharon Stone a few years back at South Paw in Brooklyn. House wasn’t packed. She played Conan and a few months later her shows sold out. This would imply that she “sucked” before the sheep caught on to how great her music was. #FAIL as the kids say.

    2) You Play Out Too Damn Often

    I lived in Miami. At the height of my band’s popularity we played 6 or 7 nights a week. That meant we didn’t have day jobs and could rehearse and write new songs often. Our bread and butter was our music. Everyone lived on their own, paid their rent, bought gear and LIVED from our performances – SOLELY. You know, like a job. How folks go to work 40 hours a week. In Miami no less.

    After that I lived in NYC. Yes, a city of 8 million plus people. To say that a band plays too much is making the asinine assumption that Brooklyn, Harlem, the West Village, Jersey City, Astoria, the Bronx, and so on are all on the same block. It’s a stupid sentiment.

    The MAIN reason that venues don’t want you to play a lot is that they don’t want your fanbase to spread out over the shows that they attend. Well, the problem there is that your fans AREN’T going to come see you 6 or 7 nights a week. That is why a venue should promote and have an audience that comes to their venue based on THEIR reputation of sharing good music to their patrons. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

    Don’t tell me that I shouldn’t work my job 5-7 days a week. That’s stupid. I think Ari Herstand WRITES too much so I won’t read his articles except every 6-8 weeks. I mean, can we THINK for a second? Please.

    3) It’s Not An Event

    This one I can’t actually argue with so much. I do think that bands should put on “shows” and actually “perform”. Depending on the genre there’s a lack of performance, engagement and showmanship. Ari and I may agree here. But what is a performance or show is and objective thing anyway. I wasn’t an immediate fan of the kids on Letterman rolling around on the ground, but the internet went crazy for it. Maybe that’s just a part of hype and buzz. But hey, it’s rock n roll so there you go.

    4) You Aren’t Selling Advance Tickets

    This is arguable as well. Some cities have advanced ticketing and some don’t. So if you live where they do then this is a good move. If you don’t then you can’t. Folks just pay at the door. So this isn’t a generally applicable rule. It may serve as a good item to add to make your piece longer, but it isn’t universally valid. I’d strike #4 from the list and shorten it. The article would be a few hundred words shorter, but you would still get paid.

    5) You Think The Venue Will Promote

    Well, yes. I do. They should. Promoters promote. Musicians play music. Funny thing that way. Hard to get my head around it. But yes. That model that used to work always did until the last 20 years or so when everyone decided it was the job of the musicians to do everything yet only get paid for being musicians.

    Eventually the bands will be responsible for promotions, sound, security, bartending, lighting and cleaning up at the end of the night. Let’s be honest, everyone do THEIR job and do it well. That raises the level of EVERYTHING and helps to sustain a great live scene where I don’t have to walk into a venue and yack on myself because some tone deaf band put up a million flyers and the club thought that meant they “worked hard” so they book them. I get that the club is about selling alcohol. But I don’t want to be FORCED to drink to be able to tolerate awful music. Screen talent. Book the talent you believe in. Promote them. Have your bookers get out to shows and not sit and count Facebook likes or Twitter followers. See the band. See their live show. Sell them to your patrons. This all works hand in hand.

    6) You Rely Solely On Facebook

    On this I agree. I agree to the degree that event PROMOTERS rely too much on Facebook. But as a musician or member of a band I think it’s totally acceptable to rely on electronic means to tell your friends about things you are doing.

    In fact, I think that ALL band members should invite their friends, families and associates to what they are doing. If you are happy enough to be in the band the least you can do is tell folks you are playing. There’s a bit more to it than showing up and getting paid, playing and going home. BE a part of your band. Be actively engaged in it. Be proud of it. Yes, promote. But the onus shouldn’t be solely on the band. There’s that mutual relationship thing again.

    I think if the band uses it’s personal contacts to spread the word AND the venue/ promoter does their job everyone wins.

    7) You Aren’t Going Out Into The World

    I think this is a bit vague. By this I mean there’s the idea that a musician should do ALL these things. So let’s recap:

    I should master my craft by learning and rehearsing countless hours. Then I work. Then I spend time with my family and loved ones. Then I go promote. Then I go out to network and go to OTHER band’s shows and talk to people while they are playing to pitch folks to come to MY show. Really? My job as a musician now takes on 7 or 8 jobs. Is it possible that the main thing I am passionate about will suck because I spread myself too thin? Me thinks so.

    Hey listen, there’s nothing wrong with talking to people about what you do. That just comes naturally. I’m playing basketball and one of my team mates is an accountant. He asks what I do. I have a band. I tell him to come see me sometime. Natural.

    I visit my partner’s family. They ask what I do. I take my dog for a walk. Another dog owner asks what I do. “Going out into the world” is just a part of living. So this one here is vague. But let’s get to the end of the piece…

    “Step one is to be great, but if you are great then you deserve to play in front of packed houses! Hopefully these 7 steps help bring you closer to a full-time music career.”

    And this is where I tell Ari to go jump in a lake. The beginning and ending of this should be “to be great” which he lists as “step one” at the END of his smarmy piece. It is the ONLY thing we should do.

    Imagine Jimi Hendrix doing these stupid ass things. Can you see Prince in his early days of getting his career going being told he “sucks” or he shouldn’t rely on the club to do all the promotion? Let’s be real.

    And to those that might say that this band or that band isn’t Prince, Hendrix or whoever, I would suggest that they be allowed to be by focusing on what THEY do. Let promoters and venues do THEIR jobs so that musicians can do theirs. It’s really fucking easy.

    I am a fulltime musician. I have been for about 15 years. I have lived quite a few places in the U.S. I was a music journalist, a promoter, a booker and have had my own project and band for several years. Having been on all sides of this discussion I feel like I have an objective few.

    When my partners and I booked bands we let them do THEIR thing and we did ours. We only booked bands that would sustain our reputation as promoters of our event. We gave them a few flyers and told them to invite their friends and that was it. We got people to come from all over South Florida to an art night in Coconut Grove on a Sunday night. The event was free.

    We got liquor sponsors. Our bands played. Artists did live painting. The venue served food and alcohol and everyone was happy. As a journalist I wrote about the event whenever I could get copy space. I encouraged OTHER journalists to check out our event. That’s just how things worked. I never hassled the band about non-musical items. We provided the sound and that was it.

    Let’s all stop being lazy and blaming bands. But if a band is to promote, sell tickets and all the other things then give them a cut of the bar, ticket sales and pay them as promoters as well. If not, this piece is lame and disingenuous.


    Reply
    1. finally

      A well thought out answer with actual truth. Now lets all ignore it!


      Reply
      1. GojiraShei

        And it looks like everyone did. Most especially, Ari Herstand.


        Reply
    2. David Cavan Fraser

      I’m a full timer (8 years) and loved this reply. Its true. You gotta leverage what time you have to.maximum benefit and income. If you’re.going to everyone else’s shows you can’t play 6 nights a week. Hope.you’ve got lots of daddies money to spend. I personaly don’t have that luxury …


      Reply
    3. Adam

      Glad to see someone talking sense. What happened to the days when venues made an effort to build a following and a reputation for having good bands? Now the artists are responsible for not only playing but promoting the shows, selling tickets, and basically bringing the bars business. It doesn’t sound like a good business model if you’re a bar owner.


      Reply
    4. Ari Herstand

      You’re using the symmetric property of equality for my You Suck point. This is not Geometry class and that doesn’t work. No one is claiming that IF the show is empty THEN the band must suck. I’m saying that MAYBE the reason no one is at your show is BECAUSE you suck. They’re mutually exclusive.


      Reply
    5. Sweatsack

      I think maybe a more accurate way to state #2 is that “you gig THE SAME PLACE too often”. You can get away with playing every night, if you’re on a world tour. As you point out, you can get away with playing the same city several times in a row if you play different neighborhoods. You can get away with playing the same joint over and over and over again — if you want to be known as “LIVE MUSIC TONIGHT”, the reliable background noise at the favorite watering hole. I see a lot of bands around here actually doing that and they get away with it and make a decent amount of money but they will never be more than “the band” that plays at this bar all the time. That’s not success to me. I know I don’t want to see my favorite band in the world 19 times a year so, regardless of what the venue wants, I don’t want to divide my audience or make them accustomed to the same ol’ thing. I want them to go away for a couple months and then see us again when we’ve got a fresh set and have an awesome time all over again.


      Reply
  52. slapshot

    This was awesome! Totally agree with all parts. I play in a Minneapolis cover band and yes the bars are taking a risk on you every time you play. Too many times I have seen a good technical band with no stage presence. BORING! Get out there and earn your money. Make a show of it! Have fun doing what you’re doing. A few top money cover bands here made the bar scene a job. People are not as dumb as you think. They can see you just going through the motions. Yes you played these songs forever, the audience has heard these songs a million times, but if you look bored how are the “fans” going to react? Great article


    Reply
  53. Eric

    These reasons should be obvious to every band. I was expecting to learn something new. Damn.


    Reply
  54. Al Lawson

    8.) People are home getting stoned and playing X-Box and downloading your music free off a torrent site and can’t be bothered to pay money to hear music anymore.


    Reply
  55. Tommy

    Thanks goo advice n sounds completely true,,,I’ve lwys promoted my bnd like we already are the shit and it tends to bring lot of people out,,,if you get the chance check out my band on you tube have video,,,Pachuco Cabras huffing spray paint,,,


    Reply
  56. Gristle

    maybe all the opinions vary becsuse the genre will vary. if anyone is in the metal scene at all you KNoW how true these words are. most metal bands are terrible, hard to lromote because its such a small target audience and promoters will actually leave midway through a gig just so they can steal your cut! all im saying is in the metal microcausim, all of these points are obvious- you can see the forrest for the shrubs.

    the biggest take away- nobody will do anything for you out of altruism so do everything yourself and ego will kill any art so be humble. (thats geared towards everyone who posted above)

    loose the egos boys. nobody cares.


    Reply
  57. Anonymous

    thanks for this, the drummer form the band ATAJOS in Miami Fl, hope we play a show together sometime


    Reply
  58. confused

    When did Master of Ceremony become emcee?


    Reply
    1. educated

      circa 1933


      Reply
  59. El Mike-o

    Good points. I don’t totally agree with the “spend more time rehearsing” point though. It’s not just the amount of time you spend, but the quality of the work you do. I’ve known bands who “rehearsed” religiously every week for years. But, at the end of all that, they sucked just as much as when they started. That’s because no one had spent the individual time and effort to acquire the core musical skills that make effective rehearsal possible.

    An orchestra might rehearse once or twice to perform Beethoven’s Ninth symphony. They are able to do that because they all have skill. All the rehearsal time in the world, on the other hand, is never going to save The Rehearsal Space Cowboys, who can’t even say for sure what key they’re in at any given time.


    Reply
    1. El-Mike-o

      Well, duh.


      Reply
  60. Anonymous

    bm some good advise, not too muc new information


    Reply
  61. Mark

    I agree with a lot of what Ari wrote and I think Number 8 should be stop playing the same songs at every gig. Specially the older bands. You should now more than 100 songs by now. Just like listening to an album. No matter how great it is, you can only listen to it so many times before you get tired off listening ti it and move on. As for charging at the door, I would never charge anyone until my band had our shit together. If you don’t take pride in what you’re doing, then go do something else. No ones forcing you to play out. A real musician would except the criticism and learn to improve on it just like in any profession. Also for you older musicians: If you’re afraid to play with a younger band because your afraid they might be better than you, I say wake up. Just like a child your best bet is if they’re good to help them reach their dream. And hopefully down the road they will show you their appreciation and give thanks for helping them along the way or like a proud parent, tell others that they use to open up for you.


    Reply
  62. RevMatt

    Numbers 6 and 7 are the most significant. Social media is simply an additional tool to promote your band. Unfortunately, many bands use it as a substitute for face to face networking among other musicians. I know plenty of bands with over 500 followers on Facebook who can’t draw 20 people.


    Reply
  63. auralcandy

    in my experience excessive full band rehearsal does not make the band better. sure, get together to learn and top and tail the songs, then get out there and play them….

    make a mistake in rehearsal and you’re likely to make it again, make it in front of an audience you won’t forget it (unless you’re so stoned that you don’t know you’ve messed up – and that’s another thread completely).

    take two bands of equal ability – on rehearses twice a week for 6 months, one does 6 gigs – I can tell you which one comes out the best at the end…

    Like sport there is no substitute for match practice….


    Reply
  64. girnt

    Im in a band. Now i shall quit.


    Reply
  65. Karen Gilmore

    This reminds of the ‘expert’ that appoaches you after every show to wax lyrical about either your sound, your songs, your performance or some such aspect that HE THINKS you are doing wrong, which I am all for hearing if the person has credibility, but they are nearly always the sad and lonely who only dream of being a musician and in real life, know nothing, and I have to say, not sure what the comment ‘Maybe you’re just not that good. Sorry’ is unjustified unless you have travelled the world and heard every single band… ?


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      This post reminds me of those artists that do suck but refuse to believe.. IE: credibility: person who is so obviously better then me, maybe they are right about me sucking (but those other 100’s of people are just wrong)
      ;-)


      Reply
  66. Anonymous

    Bands should learn how to compose better music. A shitty perofmance of a good song will stand out way better than a good performance of a shitty song


    Reply
  67. just saying

    well i’ve been around awhile and here in Fla as i’m sure else where around the world..great / good.. bands ,,,act’s ….ect ….get under cut alot .!! it’s hard when you have put so many years into something and along comes somebody that plays fer cheap..!!seems the bars don’t want talent or something to get and keep the crowds ….they just want some noise over in the corner …so play the juke box.!…forget about “LIVE Music” i want to rewrite the song “I want to be (see-dated) to I want to be Ex- ployed !!


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  68. Anonymous

    ***Venues put effort into the shows they know they can sell. If you’re unestablished and unknown why should they put their efforts into promoting you. Once you pack their club, the NEXT time you play, I bet they’ll put a bit more effort into promoting your show – like maybe announcing it on Facebook. I’m sure you’ll at least get a Tweet!****

    I totally disagree with the above……… If a venue is gonna bring a band in then they should do their part to promote “ALL SHOWS”. I’ve been playing live for approximately 31yrs. I have seen a huge decline in how clubs, owners, management promote shows in the past 15/20yrs. I agree that musicians & bands should do their part to promote shows. What I see today is that the clubs expect the bands to do at least 90% of the work & in most cases only offer the door = $. It should be at least an equal effort of 50/50 for bands & clubs to promote a show….”ANY & ALL SHOWS” ! I played a local venue on a Friday night once & management was to lazy to even put the name up on the marque outside. What kind of promoting is that ? Any venue that doesn’t put “EQUAL” effort into promoting a show is shooting their self in the foot. I don’t care if they have bands every night & they have a heavy work load ! I have ran a small business the past 16yrs & in the last 4yrs played with (2) bands & an acoustic/solo act. I too have a heavy work load but i bust my ass get it done. I’m proud to say I come from the old-school class of people the understand the term going “ABOVE & BEYOND” to get something done. The majority of venue owners, management, promoters, & booking agents today ect are very lazy & expect everyone else to do their work & make them money.


    Reply
  69. sieg

    I thin # 7 is very true and effective!! I am likely to go to a show where I love the band(s) who are playing, but if a member takes a moment just to invite you, bring it up again, it means that they may personally really want you to be there. I am even more likely to come to this show, especially if it is a distance away. And I really do enjoy taking road trips!!!
    Bands and venues should also do their parts to promote the show. Who is going to come to a show that no one even knows about!! Don’t be shy, promote, promote, and promote!! People look for fun things to do and when favorite bands/clubs are having shows!! Social promotion is key!!! Keep on posting about it to!! So people have it in the forefront of their minds and make plans in advance to attend the show!!!
    And if they-friends/fans are not willing to pay a couple of bucks to see a show….and I know bands are hard on themselves when things don’t go right or not sounding right, but really the people who really like the band and their music will look past this and a lot of common fans of the bands don’t even really know. It is the musically inclined people who really know and can tell a difference….the common person may be able to hear a little, but they will still enjoy themselves and the band they came to see if they really relate to it and are true fans!!!
    I know every band wants popularity and to have a label which can help, but it also takes away from the artistic and original sound of the band!! Most of the best music I hear are of the local/regional bands who aren’t swayed yet for the radio play sound and cookie cutter, sound like everyone else sound!! Can’t stand listening to radio anymore really!! Those songs have come to sound so much alike and mean nothing!!!!!


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  70. Anonymous

    Some good advice….I listened to the authors music. See point #1 for reference…yuck!


    Reply
  71. jax

    I play restaurant/bar gigs to support myself so it is really hard to get people to come to a big show when i already play out all the time. I get it. but I am at a loss of how to continue the gigs I need to support myself but also get to the next level where i can be a touring artist an play bigger venues. so frustrating.


    Reply
  72. Patron T'Esque

    Constructive critism…if u dnt like receiving your probably as unrealistic as ur sound. Kudos to the topics point


    Reply
  73. BJfiction

    Decent common sense article. I’ve been playing in bands for the last 15 years and have seen some dramatic differences in the experience over time. In the late 90s, there was an actual live music scene in my area. People came to shows because it was what they did. After 2000 or so, that really changed. I don’t have any data to directly support it, but my personal feeling is that the generation of young people who have grown up completely in the internet age simply don’t have the emotional connection to music that previous generations had. I’m not saying they don’t like music as much, but music is definitely a more abundant commodity now, and is thus less valuable/more disposable. I myself rarely buy records anymore, because I can just listen to anything I want online for free without breaking any laws. I do still love a good live show, but “good” is the key word. I’m older and somewhat jaded now and it’s rare that I see a band live and think, “Wow! They were amazing!” Another unfortunate part of the internet age is that artists exist in this realm where they can so readily compare themselves to other artists, which often leads to either adapting a similar style (and becoming boring) or pushing to be different and going too far (Really! You’re playing a kazoo in a metal band?). The truly good bands are those that do their own thing, whether it’s completely new or very intune with their influences, and they do it right. Live performance and charisma are super important as well, but I think that also needs to be done without arrogance. I can’t stand musicians who are just dicks for no apparent reason. If anything, I think that attitude has made concertgoers less likely to approach the artists after their sets, which really sucks. I’m OK with not making any money playing in my band. I do this for fun. I just want to connect with people. In the 15 years I’ve been playing, I’ve maybe had 3 people come talk to me after a set and share something intimate and personal, like “I have your record and really relate to song X.” That is why I bother with this whole music thing.

    In the end: Artist need to respect their fans and fans should support the artists they like. The average lifespan of a band has got to be pretty short. Buy their records now, see them play now, because they might not be around very long, and if they are, take pride in knowing that you helped them achieve that longevity.


    Reply
  74. Chad Beasley

    Youtube Chad Beasley. Thank guys saving the music industry.


    Reply
  75. Will Whalen

    I’m working as a “full-time” musician (paying all my bills, accruing savings, and using a separate bank account for band finances, all with just the funds from my gigs). Number Two (an apt placement on the list) is the one I disagree with the most. I’m the house musician for the Grand Vista Hotel (Grand Junction, CO) two nights out of the week, and every gig is a chance to learn something and hone your craft. Practice isn’t just about precise scales and memorized lyrics, but getting used to playing in front of a crowd, learning to interact with them, and to feel the energy of the room and react accordingly. Every gig is this kind practice, and while you don’t want to over-saturate the market or just give away your talent for free, it’s an unfair blanket statement to say “too many gigs is why you’re failing.” (I concede that in a hotel, new people are traveling through every week, so it’s unlikely to tire out the ears of someone who may not hear me again.)

    I agree with just about everything else here, though. I lean heavily on Facebook, but I put flyers up at friendly, well-trafficked businesses, and self-promote all the time. Never rely on the venue to get your name out there, though if they do, that’s a bonus. I especially liked the idea of titled shows… making it an EVENT. All in all, really good article.


    Reply
    1. Leo Smith

      I agree with your assessment of gigs as valuable experiences in themselves, but your statement and Ari’s second point are not mutually exclusive. Playing the same place every night does mean a lot of practice getting up on stage in front of people and performing under strange and sometimes unpredictable gig conditions, but at the same time it does still have the effect of creating an oversupply.

      As you pointed out, in your specific case you play to a rotating audience, so it doesn’t matter. But other bands are likely to have more success if they play different areas. They will, in this way, make themselves available to fresh audiences who didn’t just see them play last week.

      I don’t care if it’s [insert the greatest band ever here], if I just saw their show last week I’m probably not going to go see it again. But they could move on to the next town and tap a completely new pool of fans. By the time they get back around to me, I’ll probably be in the mood to see another of their shows. They’re getting the same experience either way, but one model means more money.


      Reply
    2. Leo Smith

      I also agree with you that this article is awesome, btw.


      Reply
  76. JaaDFire

    I love the emphasis on being great FIRST. Since I am a new artist JaaDFire I always want to know what it takes to make it in the music business and I think your closing comments soften the article enough so that it is palatable to anyone that may resistant to the advice. Thanks!


    Reply
  77. spike

    example san antonio: go to a show and they have 19 local bands who sound like nickleback influenced nu metal..ew


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  78. Hughie

    The comment that live shows are bringing in millions of dollars is true but but they are the big names and many have been around for decades. Elton , the stones , Eagles are going to rake in the bucks but this wasn’t written for them.
    This is for the new bands and he is right on.


    Reply
  79. Kenny Mann

    8) The town you live in isn’t willing to create a buzz for anything local and outside the mainstream.

    (The comment of a non-musician who loves seeing people play whatever is in their hearts, rather than playing to what they figure will get over. What got over is over and yet it’s still leaving tons of great stuff behind.)


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  80. Music Fan

    Opening acts should not play so damn loud!. Many people arrive at shows early for the social environment. When venues have sparse crowds early in the evening the sound becomes increasingly amplified and irritating. No matter how good the band is, the volume alone will drive people from the room


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  81. Barry

    Some great advice and tips there. I have no band. I have no songs. As yet I have no personal style. But as I feel myself taking my first steps from beginner guitarist to intermediate, I feel good knowing I’m spending enough time on the fundamentals before going Eb and slamming on power chords. That’s how I reward myself after real practice :).

    The other tips all make perfect sense and I can see how musician’s might not consider some of them. Saved for future reference in the hopes I can make use of them someday.

    And yeah, if a band sucks, you still should have to pay. No worse than buying a shit cd or a shit movie or whatever. That’s why events rule. Short sets and if someone sucks, someone else is out soon anyway.

    If you go to a lot of shows, a neat thing is you see this utter drizzling shit band, no rhythm, cracked vocals, just awful stuff. You write em off and that’s it. Then they catch wind of their suckage. They go to work and you see the improvements over a few shows. I dunno, I like it anyway.


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  82. foh vet

    I have been in this business since 1970. I have worked with literally thousands of acts. We need to accept that we don’t know what makes one band break out locally, or nationally while another equally as skilled does not. I will say this – Skill matters. There are performance venues for all kinds of skill levels…. from beginner…. but as a general rule if you are excelling you do not suck.


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  83. South

    Yes there are bands that suck… bad. If they don’t have the “I’m a rock star attitude” then they are trying and learning and having fun. Agree with the practice more…. I’ve also seen amazing bands that will never be signed..soooo.
    Support your local music or the venues will disappear ..happens all the time in small markets. If the band doesn’t meet your personal level of awesomeness… buy a few drinks, talk with your friends and enjoy your night out.. and tip the bartenders they work hard.. unless they are anchored at the end of the bar talking and giving their friends free drinks! ;) Then move on to next club.


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  84. risk everything crew

    100% correct-o-mundo!


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  85. funnyguy

    This coming froma jounalist/critic… who writes about ppl with talent, which he has none himself


    Reply
  86. Paula Atherton

    I go to see my fave band every Friday and Saturday because they are great and they play my fave blues. Joey Shields and The Wheels. Lennons Bar, Mathew Street, Liverpool.


    Reply
  87. bbutchart

    Whether your good or not, it boils down that you have to play the music people like and want to hear.
    There is just too much crap music out there these days that is not pleasant to listen to. One other comment too is this, turn the volume down a bit so people can hear each other when talking to each other.


    Reply
    1. killerfail

      1) stop going to places with a live band if you wanna talk, 2) no one has to pander to YOUR taste in music. people are gonna play what they like, and not you, nor any other jerkoff is gonna convince them to play “what people want to hear”. 3) you sound like someone who really hates music, and as such, probably have no place commenting on this matter


      Reply
      1. bbutchart

        I love music, been playing it for over thirty years. Each to this own. At the same time I don’t like my ear drums blown out. I have every right as anyone else has to voice their opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, suck it up and get on with your day.


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        1. Minneapolis Musician

          Killer,

          Why would you think it makes business sense to play music that the audience does not enjoy?

          Sounds like the makings of a very short career.


          Reply
  88. Jim Thomas

    What are young bands comprised of lonely people supposed to do to bring people out to shows? I mean… the other guys and I don’t really have any friends (not ones that would come out, at least). That isolation and boredom is kind of what motivated us to start the band in the first place. From what I can see, it looks like we just have to keep writing, recording and performing until people start to take notice – which I’m fine with, if that’s the case.

    Any ideas?


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  89. marcus

    5 from 7 leave 2 words in response to this crap… GG Allin


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  90. WAREHOUSESTEVE

    Right on Ari. I preach these things daily.


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  91. Allan Muir

    This great, man, thanks!


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  92. Grand Polar

    Direct Hit ! Nailed it on the head!


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  93. Peter

    I’ve seen lots of bands were the song always ends with ” thank you ” before the applause, so insincere and ridiculous


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  94. Freddie

    I agree with this as a general rule. But people must also understand that there are exceptions. Suck bands get popular all the time. People are inclined to follow the crowd and will convince themselves that something is great when they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t care for it. Weekly bands can and have succeeded. Events promoted exclusively on Facebook have and can succeed. And the reverse can also be true. Unfortunately, many bands follow all of the rules you have set forth and still gain no traction. In art, it is difficult to define exactly what makes greatness. Its a moving target. I believe the key is to believe in yourself, be humble enough to seek improvement, ad never give up.


    Reply
  95. Bill

    These are all great points and anyone who thinks they are not are probably the ones saying the “board mix sucks” when the truth is it’s them. I have lived this with bands I was in that thought once or twice a week was enough practice and a singer who would not learn the lyrics.


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  96. Chris

    Great Article! Spot on! It’s getting harder and harder for rock/metal bands to sell tickets. Hell, in March in Columbus Oh, they need 54 bands to fill a big venue. The bands include, G&R, Avenged Sevenfold, Kid Rock, Slayer, Stained, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, Jim Bruer, and on and on. They used to need 2-4 bands, now 54 is needed. How sad is that. If you are a new hard rock musician, I feel for you. The genre is dying. Probably because the music has been the exact same for 20 years. No difference between “shine” by collective soul cerca 1993 and any new Shinedown song. However there is a big difference between music from 1985 and 1965. Depeche Mode vs. hard days night by the Beatles. People are sick the same old stuff year after year. Also, crawling off a bar stool to play your stuff isn’t enough entertainment. you need to make a show out of it people. Give people a reason to listen to 12 songs they never heard before.


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  97. BK Read

    Explain then…how is it so many “love” Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and the rest of the pop crap that is raking in the dough…? American audiences don’t care about talent (as if the majority of people would even recognize it if it bit them on their fat butts) they care about glitz and glam, hairstyles, wardrobe, light shows, scandals and love affairs and all of the hype that goes into creating “$ucce$$” out of pure crap… How many jazz stars did you see onstage at the Grammy’s? But put Madonna in a Kentucky Fried Chicken outfit, or a hat that looks like a box of Quaker Oats, and VOILA! If more people actually WENT OUT TO SEE LIVE MUSIC, instead of listening to the same tired BS on the radio over and over and over and OVER again, maybe some of the fine talent that IS out there would begin to get some attention, and even some traction. But the music “industry” just wants to recreate yet another bogus “star” with the right hips, lips, and autotuned fakery… I hope the entire lousy music “industry” goes swirling right down the tubes…for those of us who take the time to find it, there are plenty of great acts to be found playing in the small clubs…diamonds in the rough, for sure, but at least REAL diamonds, not the cheap costume jewelry that passes for “talent” in the mainstream sewer…


    Reply
    1. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

      First of all Justin Beiber is INCREDIBLY talented, and skilled. He is an multi-instrumentalist. Secondly, when you go to a concert, you expect it to be closer to Broadway, than Main St. I’m not paying $100 a ticket or more to see four guys on stage tuned into themselves, which is typical of too many “local” acts.

      I produce concerts. You’d better be bringing me a show if you want me to pay attention.

      Now, if you’re only interested in 20 people at your show I can do that to.


      Reply
      1. GGG

        If your music is good enough and you’re an engaging performer, it will be the show. PLENTY of acts throughout history have done it that way. In fact, the vast majority of the universally acknowledged greatest acts of all time had shows with zero to a moderate amount of stuff beyond lights. (with a few notable exceptions as always, of course).

        There’s a reason the vast majority of pop stars need half a million dollars worth of stuff going on behind them…


        Reply
  98. CS

    I think you are missing the biggest one, which trumps them all…ahem, perpare for guitar noodlers onslaught…rock n’roll for the most part is dead! get with the times and move forward creatively. I stopped playing in bars quite some time ago, cause it was a slog with little reward and it was boring to be stuck within limits….especially cause playing with other musicians who think they are the shit is a drag and pretty annoying. Yes, there is still a demand for some metal or rock or blues….but don’t expect a big turnout all the time…people are just sick of wanking bands when no one can come up with something new and interesting.


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      Actually music is cyclical. i predict the pendulum is swinging back into the “Rock n roll” side of things.. which also means we should start seeing an uptick in people looking for live performances..

      IE: if your in a band, NOW is the time to start working on your live performances..


      Reply
  99. spon

    all these points totally describe hipster concerts.


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  100. dave dederer

    It’s really about #1.

    I’ve sucked many times and not sucked a few times. Big difference.


    Reply
  101. Patricia Shannon

    A point not covered is that you might be great musicians, but your songs are not very interesting. I have heard a lot of singer/songwriters, performing solo or with a band, who only do their own songs, and are really great performers, and their lyrics are often well-crafted, but are not very interesting, interchangeable songs, the melody not interesting. I might have a pleasant evening at their show, but I wouldn’t know if I heard any of their songs again and wouldn’t care. Like most music on the radio today! They would be more successful if they played good cover songs, or maybe teamed up with someone good at writing melodies. I certainly am not going to waste my time and money going back to see them.


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  102. Patricia Shannon

    I would like to say I have been introduced to some great bands and songwriters because they were part of a multi-act show where I went to see another band. Like I found out I like Elvis Costello when he opened for Bob Dylan a few years ago.


    Reply
  103. Drew ailes

    if im not mistaken, I got a chiropractic adjustment from this author’s uncle or something when I was on tour in New Orleans. what a small, weird world.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Ha! Amazing! I’ll tell Marc you say hi :)


      Reply
  104. larry

    Not a paid promotion, But it seems like bandsintown.com is a viable promotion option.


    Reply
  105. Damnit

    #8. You’re an indie band.


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  106. cheese Mcknight

    just common sense really


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  107. hahahah

    this list is fucking retarded and was written by an idiot.

    yes the fucking PROMOTER is supposed to PROMOTE fucking shows.

    if you “have way too many” then maybe YOU are the fucking reasons your club has shitty attendance because you fail to PROMOTE the shows. wtf are you taking a cut for? putting the show in the paper? that’s worth taking as much or more than you pay support bands? lol.

    you are a fucking moron. go fuck yourself. enjoy your failure.


    Reply
  108. Anonymous

    Whoever wrote this is an ashole.


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  109. Da Truth

    This is spot on. Living in MPLS, the first point resonates A LOT. I suppose that’s in any city though. Nailed it here, Ari. If anyone thinks this is negative, then they’re clueless. Life is not all sunshine and “everything will work out in the end”. Without hard work you cannot achieve your dreams.


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  110. 2cents

    If local bands want a fan base, they should never charge a cover for people to come check them out. They should arrange payment from the bar owners who are making a killing from the liquor sales and can afford to pay them. Most of us don’t want to pay $10/$15 for an ‘event’ that goes from noon – 2 am with 12 bands. We have lives and sometimes just want to stop out for a nightcap and catch an hour of live music after a busy day.


    Reply
  111. jason

    Cmon Ari yer sounding bitter a bit. The number one reason is songwiting. Number two talent. When did you leave mpls? Nobody was coming to your shows?


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Yes, songwriting is huge. I’m a songwriter. I guess I would consider that part of #1. This is why I left Minneapolis. Kinda the opposite…


      Reply
  112. Anonymous

    I don’t find you negative at all. I find you rather refreshing. You are completely on point with every single point. I am from the 70’s, 80’s 90’s band era when top artists were “practicing” in their Mom’s basements and went on to be successful. Today, I listen to “matured” musicians bitch, moan and complain about how DJ’s suck and no one wants to see a live band anymore. DJ’s spend countless hours behind the scenes keeping up with the latest trends of music while still staying loyal to their own genre of tunes. They promote endlessly through local media, social networking and club Flyers. They appreciate other artists and laugh off the hate. Stop begging people to come out to see you and start putting your business sense together..begging is unbecoming of you…especially on FB. Practicing is a great idea. I am put off by your “private bonding” on stage over you all being out of sync. I don’t find it endearing. Perhaps you want to buy yourself a turntable or go back to school for a new way to make your bills. If there’s no heart, there’s no following! Hate is a boomerang!


    Reply
  113. Paul

    I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head with everything that you said in your article.

    Another point which should be brought up is seeing a musician on stage reading the
    words from a songbook. If you’re going to sing the song on stage at least learn the
    words and please leave your “song bible” at home where it belongs.


    Reply
  114. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    My friends and I did a study several years ago in a market of over 3 million. We learned some very interesting things.

    1. the avg person would only drive an average of 2 miles to go see live music performed.
    2. the avg market valuation for live music was 1% of the market at any given time.
    3. the avg person spends less than $20 once in the door.

    So, in a city of 100,000 we can assume that there are only 1000 people who are available to go out to see a live local music show at any given time. In the city of 125,000 we analyzed, we learned there were 3300 seats in over 20 places where live music was presented. 1250 asses for 3300 seats, and the biggest house in town can over-sell to the tune of 800. The city was split into North / South sides. Fewer than 30% would go to the other side.

    Musicians don’t study market trends. They don’t study audience. We in the industry do.

    I have watched the most incredible musicians play to 20 people. I booked a band once 18 times in one year and never drew more than 80 people – and that at only one show. Didn’t matter how much money we threw at it.. .we couldn’t get people out to see the band.


    Reply
    1. Jess

      The user I’m replying to and a few others have pointed out probably one of the most common reasons and I can’t believe the writer left this one out. What I have found from experience so far is that the biggest challenge is getting people to be interested enough to come and see you. I find we can all be guilty of questioning whether we can be bothered to go to an event a casual friend or someone you met on the night invites you to some time. Unless you got good friends who care or have a strong social circle to come and support, even then you can’t rely on them all the time. I think there are many bands or artists struggle if they don’t have friends/social circles to rely on (even if they are really talented, have great music and are great performers) is sustaining gigs and finding how to build exposure for a genuine fanbase to come to the gigs… unless they are social circle popular type people by which this trait is a huge benefit if you are a band/live artist.

      And as a gig, musicians are still providing a service and sometimes are happy to do so unpaid, therefore promoters/venues have a responsibility of getting customers/audience for their business and not penalise the musicians when hardly anyone attends.. part of the reason this happens is because these promoters don’t know how to or don’t work on promoting and getting people to come themselves. It’s the same. If you expect musicians to be able to, then promoters/venues should be able to and then some.

      Let’s be honest, nowadays it takes a lot for people to care or be interested enough to plan turning up to gigs no matter how good at music you are.


      Reply
  115. iamandrewferris

    If I could just get past number 1, my shows would sell out for sure! ;)


    Reply
  116. Debra Grouse

    I feel I am lucky to live in Minneapolis. The cold weather outside for a large part of the year brings us inside to do things like play and listen to music. We excel at this. This is a big music town because of it. There is live music available all over at reasonable prices. True, that reasonable price often means the musicians are not generally paid well. I still feel it is better than pay-to-play. I see a lot of shows. I see some DJ shows and a LOT of live acts. Either can be great, or well…not. But, when you have that magical, joyful interaction that good music brings when it is shared…sent and received. A personal connection. WOW ! Minneapolis is a city full of WOW. It would be nice if people that are able to deliver that were able to make a couple of bucks for that gift.


    Reply
  117. Lonster Monster

    The TRUE reason why this isn’t worth a damn is that reason #1 is THE ONLY TRUTH!! 99 % of the bands out there SUCK!!!
    For some ungodly reason everyone thinks they can play, sing, keep a beat, write lyrics….it’s abominable.. the true lack of talent that exists….These Jokes are the reason it is difficult for “Musicians” to work….I spent 35 years working, touring, recording…Now..some little shit decides he’ll play for free with his douchbag trio of non-talent and the greedy club owners pays nothing AND gets this young idiot to bring friends to buy booze & food for the owner…then he gets part of what his friends have put out….hell, why not stay at home, ask your friends for money and let REAL Musicans create a SCENE again..like there used to be…..it’s pathetic….Sorry ARI, you don’t know JACK!!!.


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  118. George

    This is right on I will be taking this to my next rehearsal.


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  119. River Waters

    So this too is about “digital music?” I’m going to stop reading this site if you post these newbie articles.


    Reply
  120. LarryM

    Crappy, uncooperative and self-important bands are what made Disco popular. Club owners found it was a lot easier and less expensive to spin records than coddle ‘entitled’ musicians…even if they didn’t suck, and even if they drew a crowd.


    Reply
  121. thoughtful

    Hmmm, some points here I agree with and points I dont. To my way of thinking advice is there to be tasted. There are no right answers and there are no wrong answers…if there was then we wouldnt seek the advice to start with. Dont fool yourselves, the fact you have posted here means you are seeking it. Thank you Ari for your spin on it, appropriate or not.


    Reply
    1. Logginmahagony

      Well said.


      Reply
  122. Anonymous

    Wow that’s awesome telling it like it is you are so right and I have to say would love to pass along this post on my website as I have created one just for the unity of communications between Musician establishments and photographers too many times finger pointing gets nothing accomplished and we have so much raw talent that needs to shine for those of us who love to be entertained and not mind paying a small fee to see a show in our local venues compared to the big stadiums I think once every realizes also that facebook is just a tool they will make a effort to put it in the right places for it to be seen by the community in which looks to it to find where it is they would like to go or see .


    Reply
    1. Minneapolis Musician

      I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to ask:

      Why is that all one sentence? Why not use periods?


      Reply
  123. bud

    Yes, this the raw truth. The only thing missing is that performers should perform out of their comfort zone. Most successful bands tour extensively.


    Reply
  124. Logginmahagony

    Seriously bro, I’m just trying to rock. Check out the things I’m doing, I’m out here being a champion. Lol


    Reply
  125. Bob

    Much of that is true. Sometimes a band gets videoed and posted up on facebook or youtube, then they say ‘is that how we really sound / look like on stage ?’

    Another thing is how many other local bands sound just like you do. Most bands will say ‘ no we are totally different’ but actually except for a few die hard fans and friends many people will be thinking ‘who was that band, did they play first or 3rd ? ‘

    Sometime it is the venues fault. Like there are some clubs in Seattle that insist on having 4 or more bands at every show. Fine for a weekend show that starts at 7 and goes till midnight or later, but for a Tuesday night show starting at 8 with last song at 11 that gives only gives the first bands very shorts sets, if the headliner getting about 70 minutes. Alot of time standing around with band teardown & setup.

    Also some clubs always start late, 9 for a weekday show is not going to work because you know you are getting out of there till after 1. I almost never get to those, many of us have to be up fairly early (6:45 myself)


    Reply
  126. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    Lots of talk here about small clubs and venues. There’s no money in that scene. There really is no money in that scene. 100 people x $20 ($5 cover, 2.25 pints of beer/ale, and bar tip) = $2000. The cover carries the bands = $500. That then gets split in some way, manner, shape or form between however many acts there are on the bill that night. $500 is opening act money at a lot of festival type events I work. If you’re trying to work in the small club size of things today, you’d have to do 200 shows to make $80,000 gross at avg payouts in most regions I’ve worked or researched. $80,000 less expenses, then split between three or four people does not come to more than subsistence wages in America today.

    Assume you need to make $40,000 each x 4 = $160,000 + expenses … so add another $50,000 and you get to $210,000 gross.

    100 shows a year (part time worker status really) x $2100 a show = $210,000
    200 shows a year (full time equivalent) x $1050 = $210,000

    So, somewhere between 100 and 200 shows a year is about where you need to be to get to the desired approximate $40,000 income range.

    You are not going to get there playing the club level scene on a following of 30 or 40 people.

    My company works with a restaurant that has a music room. A natural right? Nope. I’ve seen that room (holds 70 comfortably) go empty on a Friday night with the restaurant packed.


    Reply
    1. ketchfish

      Sale of promotional items and music, downloads or physical media can make a small room pay more. The best advice I’ve ever gotten or given is not to book a room bigger than you can fill. If that means a 20 seat corner bar, book it. If you work hard not to suck, you may gain 2 or 3 fans. Do that 20 times and you’ve got enough to fill a 40 or 50 seat venue. Rinse and repeat.
      The next best advice was, offer what the customer (venue owner) needs. I’ve got an electric band, an acoustic band and play 2 and 3 piece less formally organized shows. Each fills a need for specific venues.
      Third best advice – if you want to make a living at it, go for non-traditional venues as well as nightclubs and taverns.

      I haven’t made my living as a musician for years but for a couple of years, I fed my family (6 kids) playing music locally. I played 10 to 12 shows a week in a 50 mile radius. Daytime, I might play an hour show at an old age home performing the hits of the 20’s and 30’s or play a hospital psych ward. That night, I’d fill in on bass with a jazz combo. The next night, I would work in the host band of a blues jam. My primary band only played 1 or 2 nights a week but I sold myself anywhere I could. Played a lot of GB gigs like weddings and private parties, that’s where the best local money is. Like any small business, you put in long hours of hard work (typically 80 hours between hustling gigs and playing out) and the only thing that makes it worthwhile is that you love what you do. When I got tired of hustling and didn’t love it any more, I scaled back and went back to being a weekend warrior. You can make a living as a local musician though – that I suppose is my point.


      Reply
  127. Martyn Baker

    If your band are good live performers, then it males sense to record one of your gigs, You can then post it on YouTube or facebook or whatever. People then have some idea of whether they would like you or not. Muli-track recording the sound and using multiple cameras should capture your performance perfectly. This isn’t as difficult or expensive as you might imagine. I’ve just written FREE 16 page guide on how best to achieve this. Send me your details if you’d like me to send you one. Details will be posted at http://www.yougig.co


    Reply
  128. Red Buttons

    Why would anyone go see your band if you have nothing going on to attract an audiance????

    Radio? Publicity? TV? Print media?

    Social media may sell a few tickets,, but we now know it does NOT sell music!

    There is a giant glut of bands out there, It takes money to promote!


    Reply
  129. jacob

    so what band is this dude in?


    Reply
  130. Kerry

    and for gosh sakes learn new songs, we go out to many venues, we are not musicians. but we quit going to see all of bands because they are still singing the same songs , four years ago !


    Reply
  131. Doug

    No one buys advanced tickets. They might not end up going to the show so if they do, they’ll spend the extra $2 and just pay at the door. And while no band expects the venue to do all of the advertising, it seems only fair that the venue should do SOME of it. After all, they’re the ones making the real money from drinks, while the band gets 80% of the door….split between 2 bands….after $100 for the sound guy….and $50 for the door guy….and a $25 booking fee. Besides, a band of three guys probably only know 50 – 100 people who would actually come to a show just because they know the band….about 1/4 of these people actually will. But thousands of people know about a venue and if the venue does just a little bit of hyping, it goes a long way….and the bar makes more damn money in the process! Besides, bands are broke. They don’t have the $ to spend on posters and flyers, nor do they have the clout to get written up in the local papers and magazines….whereas the venues do, but don’t because they want to blame the band if the night is slow so they don’t have to pay them.


    Reply
    1. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

      Doug – you’re thinking way too small. You must be a local band someplace.

      Fact: people buy advance tickets to any show they believe a) might sell out, and b) where they might be buying a seat they want, c) it’s a band we really want to see. I typically sell out about 55% of seats in advance for shows I advance tickets on. If I don’t get to 50% it’s problematic because I’m on the hook for the room and all accompanying services (stage, sound, lights, security, etc).

      Festival goers often purchase advance tickets. Many of these festivals sell out in advance; some as fast as the day the tickets are announced.


      Reply
  132. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    oh, and too your point about profits from drinks. You have OBVIOUSLY never had a liquor license, or run a bar. 100 people in the door will not cover the night, let alone 50 people.


    Reply
  133. sonner

    Truthfully there is no real formula to making it. Not even perseverance will make you. This gig is just like any other HOBBY. You have to do it because you love it. No amount of rehearsal is gonna help you because lets be honest, kids love lots of music and bands that just plain SUCK ASS. The only way to get into the venues you wanna play is by building a name for yourself but, the only way to build a name for your self is get people to your shows. The only way to get people to your shows is give them something they like and want for cheep. , and even then, that usually isn’t enough to get them to actually come out and see you play. It really boils down to money and exposure and if your a broke ass musician trying to make a living off your broke ass music, your gonna end up living under a bridge when your 50…. or sooner. Grow up, get a real education (not a useless art degree.. maybe try some sort of business management or marketing degree) and a job, and play music on the side. Imitate the great musicians you love and do what you hear them doing. Keep your songs to 3 minutes and 30 seconds use the ABABCBD formula (it works). Rehearse a show with your band not just your songs and maybe you might get lucky but, maybe not. But if you have an education and a job, you’ll at least be able to afford those musical toys you constantly drool over and dream about! Remember kids… Music is a hobby, even for those that made it, they started playing as a hobby, they didn’t start on a tour buss playing Madison Square Garden.


    Reply
  134. Me

    If Digital Music News could post a useful article, that’d be great!


    Reply
  135. Liz

    Usually it’s because the band sucks or plays the same shit every show.


    Reply
  136. yup

    Technology has made “music” so simple everybody thinks its within their reach.

    I an a session organist/keyboardist that plays on T.V. and we just had an Armenian idol finalist as a musical guest.

    This clown couldnt play worth a damn but since he is so and so’s kid he gets promotion most can only dream of.

    If you NEED computers and pedalboards just to get through a track chances are youre not a musician – youre just a guitar player (or whatnot)

    Food for thought. (Or not)


    Reply
  137. Bridget Joyce

    U are so right on! Alot of musians put their bands on pedestals and really suck. Or they just dont want to pay their dues, when they ought to be worried about the quality of their music. I’ve been at this for some time and they are easy to spot. Grab a little humbleness, is what I say. Unless your deaf u know if u got what it takes. Peace and thanks for the advice.


    Reply
  138. big guns band of bullets

    Yeh man sort out your mess


    Reply
  139. raymond liptak,jr

    the real reason is, obama has everyone so depressed, that even if they had ten dollars, they don’t feel like going out to party. or the other truth is, nobody can afford the ten dollars.


    Reply
  140. George Cornwell

    Truth hurts. Learned all these the hard way, over years. You must perform, not just play.


    Reply
  141. Ramez

    I stopped at no. 1 :(((((((


    Reply
  142. Paul

    #8. You’re too damn loud.
    Turning up the volume doesn’t make you sound better, in fact -the opposite.
    Just because your eardrums are totally blown after years of playing TOO LOUD in that basement/garage/woodshed you’ve been practicing in, doesn’t mean you have to inflict the same damage on your audience.


    Reply
  143. rosegarden

    many variables are involved, music environment, entitlement generation & work ethic. Few who get it, like cream, rise to the top.


    Reply
  144. LLesta T

    Well this is why I don’t mind street musicianship, at least U know for sure people dig what u doing! If they don’t like it, they keep walkin’ and if they love it… they stick and stay!! I just love to entertain, and where and when do not matter! Yes I get a lot more people that will stick and stay, then walk away!!


    Reply
  145. Veteran TalentBuyerPromoter

    the real reason is, obama has everyone so depressed, that even if they had ten dollars, they don’t feel like going out to party. or the other truth is, nobody can afford the ten dollars.

    ROFLMAO. Speak for yourself. I’ve never seen so much money being spent than I do now.


    Reply
  146. Anonymous

    Yup the music industrie in the U.S is a very tough market, practice, choreography, you must be at the top of your game, Leave your ego’s at home, There will always be another band out there that are better than yours.


    Reply
  147. Bob

    ONE MORE ADDITION:
    PEOPLE DO NOT GO OUT TO SHOWS LIKE THEY DID 20 – 30 YEARS AGO. YOUNG FOLKS’ CULTURE HAS CHANGED. THEY HAVE iPHONES AND TAKE METH/X AND DANCE TO COMPUTER MUSIC (DISCO). DOPE AND DISCO. YOU ARE A BAND? WHAT IS THAT? MICK JAGGER IS A BEER LABEL ETC. THIS IS REAL. WE MUST ADJUST. IT IS OVER.


    Reply
  148. Random man

    What about the fact that the internet has killed the live gig industry? It is a bonafide 100% fact that way less people go out to watch live gigs as did back in the day. The reason is everything can now be viewed online most people get entertainment spoon fed to them these days so why is there a need to leave your house? That is the true scope of the situation. Less people go out and interact with the world, less people go out and hang out with friends because now everything is done on computers. As much as you think your article helps the reality is that people going out to watch live music and see bands that aren’t famous will keep on declining. That is just the sad reality of the world my friends.


    Reply
  149. SteveM

    Great article and advice that more Bands should take to heart more often.

    No band has a god given right to play to packed houses night after night and sound crap. You have to work at it – if you are taking money from people then you owe it to them and to yourselves to be the best you can. I could go on but I’d more or less repeat what was written and said in the above article.

    Musicians get your act together or get out of the business and get another job. You have a chance to be part of the most wonderful Industry there is and poor musicians drag the rest down.


    Reply
  150. Jing

    Why is this the MOST READ article in the newsletter every single day? Is it because maybe it’s in the newsletter every single day?

    Needs to change…


    Reply
  151. DannyVonSnott

    I worked in my local venue for eight years, on-and-off. Ticket prices were between £5-£15. Attendance 5 years ago was sweet but since then it’s dropped. Sad days when 30 people is a mega impressive turnout. The place shut down last night.


    Reply
  152. Alex

    Someone actually pays you to write articles like this? What a bunch of recycled junk. Contribute something new to the conversation or stop writing entirely. It’s such a fantasy to think that if you practice hard and promote your shows that you’ll pack houses. A cultural shift has taken place around how we consume music, its status in society, the barriers to entry, the markets that we’re marketing to – these are the real problems that need creative solutions. This article is just a desperate grab for clicks.


    Reply
  153. frankinstink

    Yeah, pretty much


    Reply
  154. DreamCoastMusic

    This is raw, gritty and on point. And it needs to be said often and loud because many bands simply don’t do any of these! Any kind of business start up is hard, tedious and often discouraging ESPECIALLY if business is in the music industry. And yes your are as much a business as your are an artist and musicians. How well you embrace that and work it ultimately determines your success. Unless your #1. Then your chances drop considerably but you’re not out the running based on some of the music I’ve heard.


    Reply
  155. Meade

    I disagree with Number 1. I have seen amazing musicians-mostly solo acts that are super talented and have great shows- and there barely a soul in the room. They are playing because they love it naturally. On the other hand, I have seen horrible musicians pack the place wall to wall. Perhaps its mostly family and friends, but they still do it, while the really good musicians have hardly anyone there listening.


    Reply
  156. Anonymous

    He’s right. Too many self indulgent wanna be hipsters think people should worship their narcissistic a$$es just because they own a guitar and wear shitty second hand-excuse me- vintage clothes. You know why no one shows up and you can’t get anything but open mike shots and yard parties? Because you fucking SUCK.


    Reply

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