1) Promoting Shows
This is not fun for us. We don’t like it any more than you do that the last text in our correspondence was us promoting our last show and now it’s time tell you about tonight’s show. We don’t like going around town distributing posters and flyers. We don’t like Facebooking and Tweeting incessantly about our upcoming show or new album. But we realize that this is a necessary headache we take on because we believe in our art so much. We know if we don’t promote our shows, no one will come, we won’t make any money, we won’t be able to eat that month, the venue won’t have us back, no bands will want to play with us, promoters won’t hire us for bigger shows and we’ll dissolve into obscurity like thousands of bands before us.
Every band starting off had to promote their own shows. Yes even rock stars. Please cut us a break and politely respond with: a) “thanks for the invite, will be there!” b) let us know why you can’t make it long before we arrive at the venue that night or c) make up an excuse why you can’t be there.
If you don’t respond we’ll think you hate us. We’re sensitive. Do you hate me? Then why do you have my number? Unfriend me on Facebook. You know I’m a musician. This is what I do.
2) Selling Merch
Again, we don’t like this. We’re not salesmen. We feel slimy pushing you to buy stuff. But we work really hard to get our stage pitch down and run back to the merch table after the show because we know that sometimes the money we make off of merch is the only money we will make that night and sometimes is the difference between getting to the next show on our own tank of gas or Triple A’s.
Do us a favor, when you’re pondering if you should get that last beer. Or round of shots. Don’t. Save that dough for your favorite new Tshirt. We take credit!
3) Playing Cover Gigs
Now, this falls under the “original musician category.” There are some cover bands out there where this is all they do. They love it. And that’s awesome. I will get drunk to a kick ass Beatles tribute band any night of the week. But, we original musicians take these 4 hour shit shows for one reason: money. Please don’t make our lives any more difficult by drunkenly jumping on stage and stripping for your stupid friends while spilling beer on our very expensive equipment. Please respect that we are providing entertainment. We are professionals. We have been hired to make your evening enjoyable. Some of us are more fortunate to have retired from the cover scene and can make our livings on original music. But while we’re still paying our dues in the cover world, please tip us, by our CDs and pay close attention when we slip in an original tune. Much more heart went into those songs than our version of “Don’t Stop Believing.”
4) Waking Up Early
We were either at a show late last night, in the studio or at rehearsal. Please do not call us before 10AM. Don’t think we operate on your schedule. Be respectful. Would you like us to call you at 1AM after our work day’s over?
5) Playing “Exposure” Shows
Do not offer us a show at your establishment for “exposure.” This is deliberately insulting. It says “I know more about the music industry than you do and I think this gig will further your career better than $500. I place absolutely no value on music. Oh and I stole every song in my iTunes library.” Next time, maybe I should ask you to come bartend my party for exposure. Show off your skillz! Oh, you have to provide all the alcohol too. Nothing will be “backlined.”
6) Working A Day Job
Dear bosses, don’t be dicks to musicians. The only reason we are working this job is to get by until our music pays all the bills. Don’t think for a second that we’re going to waste our lives taking your shit. We will find another job, or play some cover gigs. If you need to take out your Small Penis Syndrome on an employee, pick Tom. He’s a dick and wants to take your place someday. He’ll suck it up longer than we will. You piss us off, not only will we quit, we will write a song about you, probably use your first and last name and possibly your home address in there somewhere. And it will be our first hit single.
Photo is by The All-Nite Images from Flickr and used with the Creative Commons License
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake