One of the great lies I hear from bands that haven’t made in the music business is that promoters don’t promote enough for their shows. Really? A PROMOTER whom by title and definitions job it is to promote isn’t promoting enough? I call a serious BS to this excuse that musicians use to not be accountable for their poor numbers. I have yet to meet either as a musician or a business person a promoter that didn’t promote. We are talking 30 years of playing or working in the business and I have never seen this. Even the small promoters work their fingers to the bone, pay the bands with what little came in and always go home with nothing while the bands bitch and complain and pretty much did no promotion what so ever.
It is my contention that most musicians don’t know what promotion truly is and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it and they have no idea what is going on in the background. Is this harsh? Yes, but it is my experience dealing with musicians.
So let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, there are exceptions where maybe a promoter is new or doesn’t know what they are doing or maybe doesn’t have a budget but this is not what you normally deal with. Even still people who are promoting an event are usually very excited about their event and will promote it the hilt to the best of their ability which I can not say about musicians. Yes there are a few musicians out there that get it, but the majority don’t and they make excuses as to why they there are no people at their shows.
First and foremost, promoters are not in the business of losing money. Promoters are in the business of making money. They aren’t into taking chances and throwing away hard earned dollars by throwing an event and not promoting it. That is just plain stupid and not even close to reality. If you as a musician have met a promoter that is into throwing money away and you worked with them, then that is your fault for making a bad business decision. Hopefully you have learned form it and know what questions to ask next time.
As far as promoters taking advantage of local bands again a load of BS. If you are a local band, and you were lucky enough to get a spot on an event that has money behind it, you are already getting more than you are worth in advertising and promotion alone. It builds your brand, your credibility and if you actually drew in the minimum of 30 paid tickets you should be drawing in, then you will be remembered and brought in again and again as long as your work your butt off and keep brining in numbers. This does lead to getting paid and much better opportunities for you. If you are a local band opening for a A level or B level band, you are getting paid by getting in front of the audience that paid to see the headliner not you. This is a crowd that would never normally come see you. Understand the opportunity that it is, the opportunity you couldn’t normally afford to pay for yourself and make the most of it.
I can’t tell you how many times I stood in front of Bridgestone arena during a big concert by myself handing out promo cards while not one of the band members helped or how many times I was out ever day hanging posters and no help from the bands. 3 times I had a tiny bit of help hanging posters from 1 musician who did one small area of town with me and 2 others where a model and a friend helped me to 2 square blocks. Everything else was me every day hanging posters and hitting a previous area again every third day. The bands always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help.
Promoters have their events listed on all the known event websites. They get their events in all the local entertainment rags. They set up radio interviews and advertising. They do email blasts over and over again. They have social media accounts that they promote on. They hang posters all over town over and over again because posters are always pulled down. This more promotion per event then most bands will do in a year for themselves let alone for just one event. What do musicians do? Maybe a couple Facebook posts or tweets and call that promotion.
In a perfect world, each event will be promoted to the hilt by the promoter, venue and bands. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is this. Each musician or band is responsible for their success and the success of each event no matter what anyone else does. You can never rely on someone else’s promotion for your business. YOU have to kill it each and every time. YOU cannot let excuses creep into your thought process. People pay to see bands that are good, the pay to see an experience. If they aren’t paying to see you, it’s not because of a lack of promotion by the venue or promoter. It’s because you aren’t giving them what they want yet. They don’t see anything worth paying for. YOU as a band have to learn how to separate people from their money. YOU have to learn how the become the EVENT that makes them put other things off and come see you instead of a movie or handing with friends.
As a promoter we have to do the same thing however, promoters learn quickly usually and bands seem to languish in poor work ethic and lack of creativity.
Bottom line is this. YOU have to toot your own horn and not expect anyone else to. YOU have to learn the skills to make this happen. YOU have to have a band that is dedicated to putting together a strategy to promote effectively. This means everyone in the band has to participate and quit using the “that just isn’t my thing” excuse. If you are in a band and you find that you don’t have the drive or the time to make this happen, then it is time re-evaluate your business and maybe step aside or just be comfortable with being a local band. There is nothing wrong with that. Getting up and playing music for any number of people is it’s own reward.
The music business isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There is very little money it, especially for bands that haven’t made it. Musicians wanted control of their careers so they could make more money and not get screwed. Well guess what, you got it. Now it is all your responsibility. The real work, the hard work is now up to you and you live and die by the sword.
Now you know why, bands had contracts that paid other people so much. They were the ones making you successful. They did all the hard work, the grunt work. They were the ones taking the risk and fronting the money so you could be a rock star.
Time to make a decision. Either you want it and will do everything as a unit possible to make it or you won’t, but quit blaming others for what you are not willing to do for yourself.
To all the bands that are doing it, keep it up! Never give up! Take the reigns of your business and do your best to dictate your success!
The entertainment business is incredibly tough to be in. We all think we are amazing talents and think we should be paid for all of our hard work and what it takes to put on a show of any kind but that isn’t the reality. The reality is it’s hard to separate people from their hard earned income and with all the entertainment being thrown at them from every angle now days, it’s very hard to capture their attention.
This is why is so incredibly critical that word of mouth spreads about your show the entice people to your future shows. It almost always takes lots and lots of shows before you start to see the crowds you want but there is a strategy to doing it and most importantly, it has to be an experience they will remember and always talk about.
The other day, Dana White of the promotions company UFC came out and said “If you want to get paid, you don’t want people doing the wave during your fight.You want them talking about you on Monday and Tuesday and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t paying attention to your fight” (paraphrased.) This is completely true of any form of entertainment. If you can’t get people to talk about how completely amazing your show or performance was, you are not giving the audience the experience they are paying for and hence, you don’t deserve to get paid no matter how hard you worked nor should you expect them to. This isn’t an hourly paying gig based on the hours you put in. Lot’s of people work hard (most likely in the wrong areas) but may not be talented enough, visionary enough or a good enough producer to put on the entertainment experience of a life time.
This is the truth. Hard work doesn’t determine getting paid. Buying gear doesn’t determine getting paid. Nothing determines getting paid other than your show putting butts in seats no matter how hard you work or talented you are. This can be a very long and arduous process for any entertainer but it is usually the most common road. Time, effort, talent and an amazing amount of patience are absolutely necessary in the entertainment business. If you aren’t giving the public something that makes them want to part with their money, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You don’t deserve to get paid just for showing up.
Along with talent, planning, intense amounts of practice and the vision to make your dream happen and to also deliver something the public finds value in comes the actual real work that most entertainers don’t want to do and hope others will do for them before they are big enough for anyone to want to. The promotion, booking and business end of things. Somehow the entertainers have to be able to do all of this. It’s obviously very hard and if it was easy, every one would be doing it but they aren’t. However it can be done and there are plenty of examples in the business to prove it. It comes down to will, determination and talent not only to perform but design a show that will provide and experience, not just another so-so show that the public usually gets. They deserve much better than average if they are going to spend money on a ticket plus any other expenses such as drinks, dinner, parking or babysitting etc.
I would estimate that about 95% of what entertainers are putting out there in their performances or shows is completely average or below, yet all I see are entertainers demanding that they should get paid. Paid for what? Mediocrity? I won’t pay you for that. When you send in your material and tell me how amazing you are then that is what I expect. If you aren’t that, if you don’t deliver on your words of your live show, if you don’t put butts in seats or increase your crowd on average over time, then you simply are not as good as you say you are. That is reality. That doesn’t mean give up though. It means you need to re-evaluate your show. Take the time to make adjustments, improve in the areas that need it and learn to put on the show that people wan’t to see. If you don’t, you can’t complain about people not wanting to pay ticket prices. You aren’t providing the value to make it worth the price to them.
You want to sell tickets? Provide the experience that people can’t stop talking about. This means the most well rehearsed, professional dedicated performance you can deliver and it must keep getting better. Until then, you will be mired in mediocrity and low ticket sales and letting the business jade you for your perceived slights. No one owes you a living. In this business, talent, hard work, creativity and vision are all you have. Bring it or go home. Don’t complain about people not coming to your shows when you aren’t giving the very best for them to see.
This is the reality that haunts us all. You and me alike.
Earlier I was looking at my numbers for this blog and was completely amazed at how well it was doing the last couple days based on one CD review for the band Maragold. Yesterday when I released it it was already doing double it’s average daily but then around 11:00pm CST the band posted it on Facebook and holy crap did it explode. It his had more views by 10 times the amount of any other CD review or musician spotlight I have written. Here is the key, each one posted it pretty much on their personal and band page on Facebook. Most bands don’t do this. They maybe post it once on their band page and not on their personal pages and they interacted with their fans about it. When I released it in the morning two of the band members and the band twitter account RT’d it once and that was it. For further reference on this please read my blog “Creating The “Buzz,” It’s Your Responsibility.”
What does this mean? It means that Maragold has found a way to reach it’s audience like no other band I have reviewed for or spotlighted. It means “true” fans not Facebook likes are extremely excited about them. It means they have actually offered up something the public wants. They did this in spite of having never released a CD and the only member of the band with a real name is was co-founder Greg Howe who is a well known guitar instrumentalist. Well known being relative in the world of music. Yes most guitar players know who he is, but the world doesn’t. Please note that Maragold didn’t ask me for a review. I just did it because when I listened to the CD it was so good I really had no choice.
Everyday on Facebook I see bands complaining about how hard it is or how the industry keeps people down etc… That is complete bunk. Is it hard yes but most bands don’t work hard enough, give the public something they want to buy or shoot themselves in the foot with poor promotion and bad social media skills. Is it anyone else’s fault you can’t make it? No. For whatever reason, Maragold has touched an audience with no prior CD, no real history of gigging, nothing but the past success of guitar player Greg Howe and each other individuals past endeavors. They made it happen without anything other than hard work, determination, incredible talent and most importantly at this stage knowing how to build up a release. Now because of this, hopefully with continued hard work, the songs which are amazing, will be the deciding factor in their long term success.
This audience interaction is what every band should be striving for, for without it, you have nothing.
A couple years ago I wrote a blog on artists of any genre to include music, acting, variety, writing etc…, using social media as their soapbox for the personal political or religious beliefs and the possible cost of doing so. Now I am writing a new one to help clarify the importance of being professional especially when hot political and religious topics like what we just went through with marriage equality. Today I received an email that a financial backer would not fund a project because of a certain artists rants on Facebook. This has cost 20,000 dollars in funding for the project. This morning when I woke up to the email saying basically that they will not fund a show with someone in it with such an obvious hateful stance on something we believe in so if I wanted the funding I had to get rid of that artist and replace him with another or they wouldn’t fund it. Now this may not be fair but it is business. It’s their money, they don’t have to freely give of their hard earned cash to something or someone they don’t believe in. These projects are opportunities for artists to not only get paid, but hopefully grow their fan base and brand as well as gain crucial experience in the industry. This is an artist that I have to talked to before about this many times and now it has comeback to not only bit me in the ass, but the artist and possibly every other artist involved with the production. You must remember, that people use Google to research what they are funding! Don’t think people won’t notice what you are saying. Never put yourself in the position of losing funding if you can at all help it.
I know you all think we have free speech and we shouldn’t be censored, but with free speech comes responsibility. If you are an artist of any kind of entertainment and you feel so strongly that you should be allowed to speak your mind at anytime because you have free speech, then by all means feel free to do so. Just do it on someone elses dime. Once you decide to work with other people, you have a responsibility to them and anyone else involved to make sure whatever you are working on becomes successful, not to cause controversy. Take a look at what has happened to Michelle Shocked recently for a sarcastic comment at a live show. All her tour dates where canceled in response because of her free speech. Now certainly Michelle has the right to free speech, she has every right to support her beliefs however she wants, but there comes a price with it. Now she is holding “sit-ins” in front of tiny clubs that canceled her with tape across her mouth saying “silenced by fear.”
What about the Dixie Chicks? They got nailed for one comment on stage. Of course being in a foreign country and slamming your President is never a good thing but they didn’t see anything wrong with it and the result was radio stations across the country quit playing their music for years and huge loss of fan base. They had a slight comeback but they never achieved the same level of success. There are many more examples of this I am sure.
You see, this is a BUSINESS. Promoters, venues, financial backers or whomever have their own personal beliefs and if they don’t line up with yours and you say something controversial then don’t be surprised when you loose the gig. They may do it out of fear of losing ticket sales or they may just want to not support your beliefs and outspoken way of handling the issues. In Hollywood it has never been a secret that if you favor one side of politics it could be much harder to get roles. This is nothing new whether it is right or wrong. People are people and they like to work with people they feel they have things in common with and understand them.
I have seen so many artists or promoters on Facebook fail miserably at Kickstarter programs or have lagging ticket sales and they are always starting controversial topics on social media. Do they ever wonder why no one backs them? Good chance part of it at least is your rants about your beliefs let alone the quality of show being provided. I have even been emailed about some of these people asking me to talk with them and I have nothing to do with them. I don’t work with or represent them in any way shape or form.
So here are my recommendations on how to handle this if you are an artist. First of all don’t post anything controversial on your social media pages especially business ones. If you have a personal one with your “stage name” and you post a ton of business on it, it’s now a business page. Either focus on your business page for marketing or hide your personal one from the general public and Google search engines and make it for friends only so your personal “opinions” don’t affect anyone working with you but you and you still get to stand up for what you believe in. If you are in a collective group of any kind say a band, acting troup etc… make sure you talk and set some ground rules so one else suffers from someone’s rants on Facebook. If you are “political” artist then I assume you already know the consequences of your actions and that is fine. If that is your vision go for it. Just make sure you are open about it with everyone you work with. You have every right as a human being to voice your opinion, you don’t have the right to ruin someone elses chances with your opinion. Be responsible with your free speech and you will benefit from it. Once you are big as U2 you can say what you want, because now you can afford to live if everyone ends up hating you and never buys another ticket to a gig. Remember especially here in America, the country is very polarized politically and if you alienate one half of your possible audience with your own personal political views, you are in for a very long hard road to success. The beautiful thing about social media is you can’t post what ever you want, it’s your page, your right to do so. The bad thing about social media you can post what ever you want.
If you are a newer promoter, venue, talent buyer etc… avoid artists like this like the plague. Hire only professional artists that understand it’s a business and want to make sure that every event they do comes off as professional and successful as possible. You can’t afford to loose ticket sales on artists that don’t care about anything but themselves. As a promoter check with an entertainment attorney to see if you should have some recourse to come back at them and sue them for damages if an artist causes you to loose money like this. Have set guidelines for your events and make sure the artists are clear on them and also make sure you research the history of the artist. I made the mistake of trusting someone to be professional and it has cost me.
I have said it before and I will say it again, as an artist trying to make it in the very, very hard industry, you can’t give anyone a reason to say “no” to you. Do you really want to lose possible ticket or merch sales just so you “rant” on social media? Why work so hard to make it then if you are willing to take such risky chances? This business is already way to risky for most to even try it and now you want to add to the risk? Your marketing, performance, attitude, media savvy should all be top notch. You more than likely don’t have a PR department to “spin” your free speech or questionable actions so you have to be able to do all this yourselves. If you aren’t willing to be professional at all times with your brand there are plenty who are and will take your spot on the roster or gig.
I know you won’t all agree with me and that is OK and I certainly support free speech, it’s a matter of knowing when to exercise it. If you are going to exercise it, do it responsibly, not in anger or hate, refrain from pointing fingers at one side or the other. Just make a nice, solid statement that isn’t inflammatory and leave it at that. Don’t go posting on everyone’s time line that doesn’t agree with you, or posting those sarcastic photo’s everyone seems to like to create. I have learned from my mistakes and will handle things differently with artists. Artists won’t be costing me money anymore.
Every once in a while I like to recognize at least what I consider someone who is doing everything they can to achieve their dream. Someone who I see constantly striving to be the best they can be and pushing new limits for themselves. This time I am recognizing illusionist Sammy Cortino. Now to be fair, this is only about work ethic. I am not talking about his show as I haven’t seen it other than a few video clips and the one illusion Sammy did for a show of mine last year. This is purely based on how hard I have watched Sammy work over the last four years.
I found out about Sammy Cortino on twitter four years ago and we became social media friends. Since then, Sammy has moved to Nashville, TN and is carving out his niche as a master illusionist around the country. Rarely have I seen someone give so much of themselves to their dream and try so many things to see what worked and what didn’t. Most just stay the same, never trying anything new, not listening to advice and wonder why over the last few years nothing gets any better. It becomes everyone’s fault but their own and the reality it is simply the world didn’t want to buy what you had to offer, at least not in the way it was presented by you. Sammy is becoming so good at learning to change things up and re-branding his image when necessary. He sinks his money back into his career, most importantly in the things he actually needs, not necessarily wants. For those entertainers that complain about travel and how much they have to take, try being an illusionist. Set up and tear down time is much longer and usually 1 – 3 people doing it not 4 – 5 like in a band.
Sammy tries to fusion things that have rarely been done before or are original, another trait lost on many. Keeping a show fresh and something you can sell over and over again to the appropriate talent buyers or promoters is incredibly important and Sammy seems to understand this. This isn’t to say Sammy has figured it all out or is always gigging. He hasn’t and he isn’t, but he is working harder than just about anyone I have ever worked with by far. Sammy is always coming up with new photography, videos, illusions and tons of other content to try and keep himself fresh in the worlds mind. Sammy also understand that image is everything. You can decry it all you like, but it’s the truth. It’s the first thing people see and it determines whether or not they will click anything to check you out.
Whatever you may think of Sammy Cortino’s show or talent is up to you, but what you should take away from this is no matter how talented you are, if you are not working as hard as someone like Sammy is, they will take your spot on the bill or the stage just based on their work ethic alone.
Well done Sammy Cortino. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and success in what ever way you deem it.
Note: The Lowry Agency is in no way affiliated with Sammy Cortino.
For anyone trying to make it in the entertainment business or professional sports, you are constantly under barrage from people telling you that you can’t do it. You are aren’t good enough, you don’t have what it takes or there is no money in it so go get a real job (like there is any security in that anymore anyway). You deal people who let you down, who don’t do anything at all after the big long speech of how good they are, how hard they work or what they can do for you.
You have haters and trolls on the internet, other people in your genre constantly tearing you doing or taking jabs at you. It get’s lonely, harder and often times you feel like giving up. Well you can’t. No matter what anyone says or does to you, only you can keep pushing, proving them wrong and only you know who you really are. Anyone who would tear you down is the insecure one, the one who if full of it, the jealous one who really has no idea what they are doing. You can’t let them affect you or stop you.
No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep pushing on with your dream. In today’s entertainment scene you have more control than ever and more often than not, that means you are doing it on your own because now the money is gone. You can’t afford to pay for professional help and you are facing this wave of overwhelming obstacles and people who have no life so they try and tear you down.
So let me offer this to you for some inspiration. No matter what you are facing in life, business or if you are someone who is trying to help someone you care about get through something, do it with the strength and focus that Garrett shows in this video. If he can over come what he is going through, we can over come what we are going through.
I wish you all the best and the strength to get through it.
Let’s break it down a little bit so that maybe I can shed some light on what promoters are looking for in booking an opening act. First and foremost, this is definitely a “who do you know?” business. If you have the right connections or relationships, this will certainly be a lot easier for you. Some times it seems unfair but people will use people they like and trust before people they don’t. It’s your job to development this relationship and get your foot in the door.
Unfortunately most bands and artist just send an email and wait for a response and leave it at that. This shows no “real” interest in developing a relationship with a promoter or talent buyer and is pretty rote at this point in the game. Business people are looking for persistence, reliability, creativity and hard work. This is a very speculative business and so promoters are looking for artists that will make sure they deliver and help make sure the show doesn’t operate at a loss.
To get in good with a promoter, you need to try some creative ways to get noticed and get the gigs. They need to feel a sense of trust with you. Try setting up some social media campaigns early that get your fan base used to interacting with you in different types of promotional contests (These are things the promoters will see when checking you out). Then apply that to getting opening gigs. Especially when you have a opening spot already in line. Make sure you explain to your participants the seriousness of what you are asking them to do.
Let’s say you are opening for a band in your hometown. Supply the box office with a sheet of paper (with your band name on it and numbered already) and get all your fans to make sure they report to the box office they are there to see you and wouldn’t have bought tickets if you weren’t on the bill. After the show, get that paper and show it to the promoter, talent buyer or in house manager (take a pic first in case they keep it). It is essential you start building up your rep for hard work and bringing people out.
Another idea is prep your fans before the show by saying after you perform, you will be at your merch booth and want all your fans to come and bring their tickets stubs. Have them initial the front of them and take a pic of all them together. Obviously these are things you can email to promoters, put on social media (be prepared for every other band to copy you) and start building your street cred as the band to hire for the gig. This is also a great way for your fans to participate in your success and make sure they know that appreciate their help and support. You can’t do this with out them. This also helps people decide which show they want to spend their money on. One with a serious band they like where they can help or just another show where the band will show up, play, and act like they are the stars and probably bail before the concert is over.
This will also help people at the show who were on the fence about you or are maybe just showing up decide to check out your booth. Having all the people around you and the excitement they see going on while you are gathering ticket stubs will help you to get these “undecided’s” to the booth and hopefully by your CD or spend time talking to you. You are now developing new fans. You see, your time on stage isn’t the only time you are developing new fans. You job the whole time you are there is to development new fans and maximize every opportunity in front of you to do so.
As you can see, none of this is hard. It may be a bit time consuming having to interact on social media but you are supposed to be having original content to post anyway and this helps fill that hole. The idea is to be creative and PROVE you are the band to bring on board. This may take prep work as described above but this is business. You are a business. You need to start acting like one.
First let me just say this blog is in response to what keeps coming across my email or phone conversations. This isn’t an attempt to come down on artists but an attempt at maybe setting some realistic expectations. I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from artists either out of frustration with other band members or from artists that think they can just step over the process of touring and building/rebuilding a fan base. I guess anything is possible but it’s not likely to happen even if you have had success in the past. This is not the same industry many of us grew up with and we can’t keep assuming that because 20 years ago the artists had a hit or toured the world with so and so band that people have any interest in us or care about our music at all. Artists call with no budget, no new music, no website or one that has been “in development” for years expecting that they can just go on the road and make thousands per show because 20 or more years ago they had a minor hit or two. It’s not going to happen. Current artists with hits on the radio are making $2,000 guarantees a lot of times and yet artists that haven’t had a hit since 1992 that want $8,000 or more a show. You better be a legacy act with huge hits from the past that are still played on the radio to demand that kind of money or more. I know how expensive touring is, but the money isn’t there for touring with artists with no active history or fan base that will support the necessary tour numbers for there to actually be a profit. This is when a band or artist has to suck it up and either rebuild for little money, try something completely different or maybe decide this isn’t for them anymore and do something in music that doesn’t require touring for small dollars.
For example, the first thing I am asked by anyone in a position of helping is “What do they have going on?” Many times the answer is nothing (note that when artists come to us or anyone else for help they have this notion that 3 months is an expected amount of time to make things happen), they have no new music, no tour dates, outdated photos and websites. How do you expect anyone to help you if this is your state of business and you don’t take the time to get it right before approaching anyone? The second thing is “Do they have a budget?” The answer is almost always no and people understand if times have been rough on the career but it’s amazing how many artists are not willing to put money into their own career but expect others to. If the artist doesn’t have a budget then almost no one is willing to help and people can’t giving away their services for free. Video EPK’s cost money, photography costs money, etc… but artists are always hoping people will help them for free and then expect that things happen in a short time period. For the person that is connected like Irving Azoff and has his resources this is possible, for the rest of the “real” music world it probably isn’t. Music is a very speculative business to begin with and no one is looking to lose money on an artist no matter how much success he or she may have had in the past. As much as people love some of these artists, he or she needs to get paid as well and they can’t work for free or spend time with unrealistic artists that can’t or won’t rebuild career realistically if there is no interest in them at all.
Just because an artist may have had success in the past doesn’t mean they get a free pass of touring the bar circuit again and starting over. Yes that means rebuilding your fan base and getting paid very little most of the time. If you can’t do that then maybe playing isn’t for you anymore. I know we all have bills to pay but money is in short supply and investors want a return on investment. They don’t want to support an artist that hasn’t been on tour in 10 or more years and won’t draw 150+ people to a show. You as an artist are in the position you are in because you let yourself get there. You chose to not tour, you chose to not listen to your team or possibly choosing the wrong team. It could be a lot of different reasons for your situation and many of those may not be your fault, but it’s still your job to be realistic and make things happen with today’s current landscape, not what was possible 20 years ago when people were throwing money around like it was water.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself with unrealistic expectations. For example, if you think a major label is going to sign you, fund your tour and you’re a prog rock band, think again. No label is going to fund that tour unless you already have a huge fan base and more than likely you will just get shelved as prog rock probably isn’t there thing at this label. Most prog rock bands aren’t huge and most likely never will be. If you get a label interested in your music, at least entertain the idea and not shoot it down because you think a major is going to offer you something when you won’t even play shows because you don’t make any money on them. Do you know why you don’t make any money? Because you have absolutely NO FAN BASE at all. Who is going to fund a tour for a band with no fan base these days? Please tell me so I can call them up.
There are no shortcuts normally in this business. Take Mike Portnoy for example. One of the most popular and talented drummers in the world, who has a large fan base from his history as a musician and still he and his current project “Adrenaline Mob” are playing clubs to a couple hundred people a show. He knows he has to build this band no matter who he is and he is willing to put his money and time into it. Even someone as relevant as Mike has to work it the hard way sometimes.
If you are a musician reading this, please consider where you are at in your career. If you are in a band but won’t tour because your “cover gig” is paying more money, than back out of the band and let the band find someone hungry enough to make it happen. If you are an artist with a past but currently not where you were a long time ago, then ask yourself “how bad do I want this?” If you won’t play for smaller guarantees then you need to book yourself and stop making people’s lives difficult who are trying to help your career because you can’t be bothered with playing for smaller amounts of money. You are only as big as your last gig or chart success in the current times, not 20 years ago.
There is a process almost everyone has to go through. You are more than likely going to have to go through it as well. If you can’t or won’t, get out of the way for those that will and let your band move on with people who want it bad enough to put up with the crap of the road and bar tours.
You hear it all the time from musicians. “Why won’t they book me for an opening act?” “How come they got the spot and we didn’t?”, or “the promoter didn’t do his job” even “the promoter screwed me or didn’t know what they were doing.” etc…. This is obviously a one sided opinion, and from my experience one that is very, very misleading. Many artists have little or no experience in promoting a show, or have an idea what it costs; they just want to blame someone for things not going right, without ever looking at what they bring or don’t bring to the table.
Granted there are instances where maybe a promoter didn’t know what they were doing or maybe there were a small company with very little cash flow to do an amazing job of advertising the show, but that is a risk we all take and like all bands, promotion companies have to start somewhere and grow as well. This is why working as a team is incredibly important and any acts associated with a bill, should be doing everything in their power to work with the promoter and make the show as successful as possible.
I find this can be very frustrating, knowing how much work and money it takes to put on one single show. For a 1,500 seat venue, this can become extremely time consuming and expensive for the risk involved, and a marginal profitable return on the investment. To have a small time musician/band say that the promoter didn’t do their job is completely asinine. First of all, the musician/band probably has no idea what it really takes to make one of these shows happen, and secondly, what an opportunity it is for the band to even get a spot on this when someone else is paying for your opportunity and the big media. Most opening bands should realize by now that their job is to put butts in seats or they have no business opening a show for anyone. They should be able to bring in at least 40 to 50 people to each opening or they shouldn’t complain at all.
To put on a show of this size can run from $50,000 up to over $100,000 depending on the type of venue, marketing, guarantee etc… It takes at least 60 – 90 days worth of work, negotiations, planning and so forth to get these things going. When a band is given an opportunity to open a show, many times they don’t deliver and don’t work the opportunity for all it’s worth.
Promoting the show is so important. I am not talking about Facebook posts or the other white noise that you are putting out. I am talking about getting promotional materials, getting off your butt, and doing your job. You should be out on the streets consistently promoting and showing everyone that you are the band to hire for opening spots. Getting the promoter, venue and others to notice you is as important as performing on stage. Doing everything you can to get your fans to purchase tickets to come see you at this event, and then deliver the best show you can that night no matter what the circumstances is the ultimate goal.
Remember, the promoter doesn’t owe you anything. They gave you a shot and if you don’t deliver, it’s no ones fault but your own. Once you do the show, if you happen to deliver and get butts in the seat, then you need to learn to turn that into other opportunities.
In the next blog we will talk about ideas you can do to not only get the opening spots but to also get people to the show but also how to possibly get more out of the show than just exposing your music to a new audience.