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charlie brown

What is Wrong, with Local/Area "Live Music," these days?!

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Its all over the place. I had a 3 piece "Cure" sounding alternative group called "Naked Lunch" that did half covers and half originals that would work for $250+ free drinks (a lot of free drinks). There was a cover group that was popular locally that wanted $350. There is a three piece the "Swing Crew" (stand up bass, drums, and guitar) that would do it for $400+ free food, but it was totally worth it. We had the 6-8 piece funk combo that wanted $600, and I once payed $800 for a semi famous blues player out of Chicago (and he gave me a break). I once had a guy give me a demo and behalf of a musician he represented (that I never heard of), and he wanted almost a grand. I laughed in his face. On the flip side, I have had groups that just wanted to play, and told me to pay them after the show based on what we made and what I thought they were worth. You got guys that will do if for free drinks, and guys that want a grand [scared]

You have to admit the difference between a good band and a poor band is receipts. A good band that entertains will keep them there drinking the more expensive drinks. A bad band will send them down to the Kaereoke Bar with $1.00 Drafts. The free band could care less if they chase out your customers as long as they're having fun, a paid band should feel the burden of the entertainer....at least they better.

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Good stuff, thanks...keep it coming! Our "band," if you can call it that...

(we seem to have trouble with "drummers," more than anything else) plays

the local area bars, and "supper clubs," for the "standard going rate,"

whatever that might be. We're in it, for the fun of playing, mostly. Any

"extra" money we make, is always appreciated, of course. But, the motivation

has always been, to play for/in front of, other people...large or small crowds.

So, "Making A Living," has never been a factor, for us. But, losing places to

even play for the door, a minimum fee, or even free, in some cases, seems to be

happening, more quickly, even so. I DON'T think it's our music, or demeanor, that's

the problem, as we're as good (no better, no worse), as anyone around here, in

the same situation(s).

 

So, all your ideas, and shared experiences, are really interesting, and helpful,

as well. Thanks, all...

 

CB

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CB... it's a lotta things, but figure this: When ASCAP/BMI started zapping the freebie-type venues, those groups (some half decent and some better than that) looked for places to play for almost nothing.

 

So... the places that paid decently had options.

 

When I was playing saloons in the late 60s-up to mid/late 70s, the saloon crowds tended to be past 30 into their 40s and 50s playing as they had wanted to do as teens and did before the kids came around when they were in their 20s.

 

But the drinking "limit" on DUI was a lot more; most smoked and the tobacco rituals were in force around various tables.

 

Now you can't drink as much before you get busted, so twice as many drinkers are needed; smokers tend to stay at home and "stopped smoking" folks tend not to do the bar scene as they did when they could and did smoke.

 

It's an entirely different game.

 

When I played out a lot it was almost identical to the 30s, 40s and 50s, just different music. The 80s brought the cultural changes and... look where it's taken us.

 

m

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Yeah, Milod...we've been down the ASCAP/BMI road, before...I didn't know a thing,

about them, in the '60's, because it just never came up! It was NO factor, back

then, in playing (even covers) in bars/clubs, in those days. So, when a

local area supper-club/bar, was seriously "hassled" last year, it was a bit of a

shock, to me...and other area musicians, as it was our (and the owner's) first

foray, into that kind of scenario. Needless to say, he stopped hiring bands, at

all. I think, now however, he's gone to hiring only "original material" bands,

that have no record deals, or publication rights, involved. Mostly, the local

"Red Dirt," type bands. For the other venues, it's never been a problem, as they

already pay ASCAP/BMI regarding such things, even to have their Juke Boxes, these

days. So...???

 

CB

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CB...

 

For what it's worth, anyone hiring even an "all original" band or singer/songwriter can expect hassle from ASCAP/BMI on grounds that the singer just might do "licensed" material. Under threat of a lawsuit, most cave and either pay, buy Muzak or whatever it's called nowadays, or stop having music at all.

 

Ah, for the old days. But they ain't coming back any more than live radio.

 

But again, that's still only part of the challenge for venues. They've gotta make enough more money on a band night to justify that cost even over a juke box. I think that's also harder today. And I note that the dance hall as I knew 'em as a kid is long, long gone.

 

m

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CB...

 

For what it's worth, anyone hiring even an "all original" band or singer/songwriter can expect hassle from ASCAP/BMI on grounds that the singer just might do "licensed" material. Under threat of a lawsuit, most cave and either pay, buy Muzak or whatever it's called nowadays, or stop having music at all.

 

Ah, for the old days. But they ain't coming back any more than live radio.

 

But again, that's still only part of the challenge for venues. They've gotta make enough more money on a band night to justify that cost even over a juke box. I think that's also harder today. And I note that the dance hall as I knew 'em as a kid is long, long gone.

 

m

 

 

Yeah, "They've" (whoever "they" are), have been trying to kill "rock & roll," since it's inception.

Nowadays, I could (almost) think, they might finally do that. [crying][cursing][scared]](*,)

 

But, they can't kill it, in our minds, and hearts, at least! There, it will always be safe! [thumbup][biggrin]

 

CB

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You have to admit the difference between a good band and a poor band is receipts. A good band that entertains will keep them there drinking the more expensive drinks. A bad band will send them down to the Kaereoke Bar with $1.00 Drafts. The free band could care less if they chase out your customers as long as they're having fun, a paid band should feel the burden of the entertainer....at least they better.

I don't agree with this 100%, but there is some truth to this statement. For the most part, even free bands know they are more or less auditioning for possible future paid gigs. Talent and audience appeal has less to do with receipts than the crowds they draw. The Semi famous blues guy that I mentioned we hired for $800 (the most I have ever paid a band) drew a huge crowd, but not the type that spends a ton of money. We did okay, but it was more about booking a big name and making money at the door. Naked Lunch (the Cure sounding band) is far from the best act that we employ, but a ton of college age kids come out to see them. The Jerry Pranksters are probably the most talented group in the city. However, they are a jam band (originals, plus Phish and Dead covers), and draw a notoriously cheap and dirty crowd. They have to work for peanuts because their fans are much less free with their wallets than they are with their spirits, and the venues know it. Lazer Wolf, the city's best"pro" cover band is also very talented and the crowd can really get into it, but they totally saturated the bar scene. They play 3-4 nights a week, so its no big deal if you miss them because they are playing at another pub down the street the next night. So it becomes, "If I'm out and about, I might stop in." as apposed to "I'm going to try to make the show." Ive seen them like 6 times by accident because they happened to be playing at the bar I walked into.

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Yeah, "Saturation!" Here, I can only fantasize, about that "problem!" LOL

 

But, I know that's right, because part of the "saturation" problem, is not

only with the band(s), but can be with the music genre, itself. I find myself,

after 40 years, desperately want to play "other" "Classic Rock," that is less

well known, to the average "Joe/Jane," but equally (if not better) substantial

in musical/lyrical quality, as any "hit," was/is. You can play those "other"

Classic Rock, or even "Alternative" songs, and people will sit, politely, and

stare at you, or you can do the "same old, same old," that every other band

does, and they'll jump up, and dance! LOL Frustrating, as that is..it's just

a fact! Out here, anyway. [tongue]

 

CB

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It's the same issue as what's wrong with the kids today, it's a whole lot easier to switch on a tv than it is to actually entertain or interact with your clients or your family. Hell go into a restrain or bar today and look around 50% of the people are on a cell phone while there kids play a video game. who needs a live ban when you can get 400 greasy chicken wings to stuff your face while you ignore your friends and family. [crying]

 

Guess I'm getting bitter but I swear there are times when people are sitting there on there phones ignoring the world around them to a point where I feel like smacking them off their stools.

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I don't agree with this 100%, but there is some truth to this statement. For the most part, even free bands know they are more or less auditioning for possible future paid gigs. Talent and audience appeal has less to do with receipts than the crowds they draw. The Semi famous blues guy that I mentioned we hired for $800 (the most I have ever paid a band) drew a huge crowd, but not the type that spends a ton of money. We did okay, but it was more about booking a big name and making money at the door. Naked Lunch (the Cure sounding band) is far from the best act that we employ, but a ton of college age kids come out to see them. The Jerry Pranksters are probably the most talented group in the city. However, they are a jam band (originals, plus Phish and Dead covers), and draw a notoriously cheap and dirty crowd. They have to work for peanuts because their fans are much less free with their wallets than they are with their spirits, and the venues know it. Lazer Wolf, the city's best"pro" cover band is also very talented and the crowd can really get into it, but they totally saturated the bar scene. They play 3-4 nights a week, so its no big deal if you miss them because they are playing at another pub down the street the next night. So it becomes, "If I'm out and about, I might stop in." as apposed to "I'm going to try to make the show." Ive seen them like 6 times by accident because they happened to be playing at the bar I walked into.

well, there a big difference between a band setting up and giving a free night for an audition and a band willing to set up and play for free because they're half-assed and want to act like rock stars. I've done many a free audition night in the beginning stages of a band, usually Tuesday or Thursday night.

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It's the same issue as what's wrong with the kids today, it's a whole lot easier to switch on a tv than it is to actually entertain or interact with your clients or your family. Hell go into a restrain or bar today and look around 50% of the people are on a cell phone while there kids play a video game. who needs a live ban when you can get 400 greasy chicken wings to stuff your face while you ignore your friends and family. [crying]

 

Guess I'm getting bitter but I swear there are times when people are sitting there on there phones ignoring the world around them to a point where I feel like smacking them off their stools.

 

Yeah, it's a very different world, attitude, now...than when we were "kids." During one of our

breaks, the last gig we played, there were two kids (well, 20-Somethings) having a conversation,

with each other, via "texting!" They were siting right across the table, not 30 inches apart,

and it was not too noisy, to speak, as it was during the break, and there were people, all around

them, talking in a "normal" voice, or maybe slightly elevated, due to the "crowd" factor. Anyway,

these kids were texting each other, in favor of actually talking! I know they were not talking,

at the same time, to other people, as they would, at times, look up, at one another, and nod, or

laugh. I mentioned, to the bar tender, who knows them both, how "odd" it seemed, to me..and he

said: "Oh yeah, they do that, all the time, even out of this bar...I've never seen, or heard them

actually talk to one another!" (No, their's nothing wrong with either of them, medically, or physically.)

 

Very odd...but, whatever floats your boat, I suppose? [tongue]:rolleyes:

 

I'm afraid that as great as some "technology" is...benificial, and in some

cases, even life-saving, some of it, really does seem to be isolating us,

and/or insulating, even more than we are, already?! And, "social skills"

lost, in the process. But...that's a whole "nuther" conversation/thread. LOL

 

 

CB

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The world has changed, but it's also stayed the same. I think expensive taxis, fewer drink specials, and sobriety checkpoints coupled with a weak economy plays a bigger role in the way people party. in the last ten years I've noticed more people party at home with big coolers of beer and play their Ipods through the stereo. Cheaper and you wake up with your drivers license.

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I think a lot of good points have been made about the regulations and laws of various forms having an impact. They seem to hit in all directions, some affecting the ability of the audience to be able to go out, and the cost increases of the venues.

 

The one thing not yet mentioned is real estate prices. I think here in portland, it has had a major impact, not just on the venues, but on the musicians AND the quality of music.

 

Naturally, high real estate means high rent.

 

It is much more expensive and risky for clubs to exist with higher rent. A lot of the old-gaurd clubs in the city and close in have closed up completely or moved out. I could almost sense it a few years back as leases seemed to run out. And obviously, for owners, it changes the numbers game. Not only do profits have to be higher, the amount of debt that can occur from bad nights when your profit/overhead ratio is lower.

 

Besides clubs having less available money to pay for bands, the bands themselves NEED more IF they are going to be full time musicians. 20 years ago, there was a good group of Blues musicians that made a living doing it full time. Getting 400 or so for weekends and 250 or so for weeknights meant you could actually pay the rent. And, if you don't have a day job, being able to play more and have more time to practice means your music is MUCH better, besides the obvious of being able to take more gigs. It means that the quality of music was quite good and such that kareoke and DJ's had less of a chance.

 

This is a SAD post. Being a musician has always been a poor man's trade, but it seems the days of being a musician are over for most that would even choose the path. And, it would seem the separation of classes has taken it's toll and eliminated a whole trade.

 

Can't regulate what doesn't exist.

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Which brings me to another, related, question. IF the industry is in such decline, what

will the next generation do, to "play out," in front of people, without the venues, and

support, that seems to be in steady decline? And, do the younger members here, even care?

Are they perfectly content, just playing in their rooms, to no one, save maybe family and

friends, at times? "I" can't imagine doing just that! I get antsy, even now, when our band

has an extended hiatus, from playing, due to lack of venues/opportunities, and/or personnel

changes/fluctuations. :rolleyes:[biggrin]

 

CB

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CB...

 

I've a hunch that solo acts may be the next step in the downward spiral. They've kinda done okay, I think, for the Holiday Inn type circuits...

 

How, exactly, they'll make that work... I dunno. It seems to me we're almost back to the era of the piano bar. Karaoke filled some of that, but without the degree of "sit around the musician" that came with the piano bar.

 

But I think it will require the same kind of "thing" used by the old piano bar folks - this time the fakebooks with lyrics on a computer, and the musician having to have a huge batch of "I know this tune well enough to fake through it if I've got the chords."

 

At any rate, I kinda hope that will last a while.

 

m

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CB...

 

I've a hunch that solo acts may be the next step in the downward spiral. They've kinda done okay, I think, for the Holiday Inn type circuits...

 

How, exactly, they'll make that work... I dunno. It seems to me we're almost back to the era of the piano bar. Karaoke filled some of that, but without the degree of "sit around the musician" that came with the piano bar.

 

But I think it will require the same kind of "thing" used by the old piano bar folks - this time the fakebooks with lyrics on a computer, and the musician having to have a huge batch of "I know this tune well enough to fake through it if I've got the chords."

 

At any rate, I kinda hope that will last a while.

 

m

 

That's interesting...I wouldn't have guessed that...probably because people don't seem to have

the time, really, to relax that much, or the inclination to socialize in that kind of atmosphere.

But, I may be totally wrong, too. What little I see, of/in those kinds of settings, has led me to

feel that the Piano player (or, guitar player), is...most often, either ignored, as "background music,"

or at best "nodded" to, in validation, for a recognizable, or well played (preferably both) song.

 

I can't remember (save, in a "movie") anyone actually sitting (or standing) around, a player, and

singing along, or calling out favorite songs, etc. I remember it happening, a long time ago...and,

of course in the odd "Campfire" situations, with a guitar player, but beyond that, I rarely (I won't

say "never") see that, anymore. It might be kind of cool, but people are going to have to get back

to relaxed socializing, as opposed to "having drinks, while chatting "business!" Think THAT will

happen? :unsure: :rolleyes:

 

CB

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CB....

 

It's the old piano bar thing... Yeah, I've seen it working in variation around here, although it's more likely to be the background music thing, as you noted, to add "class" to some joint with a bit of pretention.

 

It's kinda like priming a pump in that you almost need to have somebody start it to make it run.

 

The gaming "thing" doesn't care that much for it 'cuz they want folks to keep playing.

 

m

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<...>What happened? Karaoke? ASCAP/BMI?

Cable TV? 4 dollar a gallon Gasoline? "All of the above?"

 

What can we do, to change or reinvigorate the local/area live

music scenes, if anything?

 

Your thoughts, and ideas, welcomed!

 

CB

Got in late from a PM gig and didn't have time to read all that went before, so pardon me if I repeat something.

 

IMHO the problem is TV.

 

CB I know we are roughly from the same generation.

 

Our parents had radio and then small screed B&W TV with very tinny sounding audio plus 78RPM records that didn't sound any better. If they wanted to hear good sounding music, they had to go out.

 

Our generation had larger screened color TV but still with tinny sounding audio due to the limited bandwidth allocated to the audio spectrum, the small TV speakers and the midrange filtered audio amps. We also had 45s, 8-tracks but also some great sounding Hi-Fi/Stereo sets, but alas, with no picture and limited volume. If we wanted good music, we had to go out and hear live music.

 

Now we have:

1) HUGE screen TVs with remarkable picture resolution

 

2) 7.1 surround sound with full frequency high fidelity.

 

Between (1) and (2) you can get good sound and picture in your living room you don't have to go out to hear/see good music any more

 

3) Perhaps most importantly, a Cable bill that can easily run into a couple of hundred dollars per month --- there goes the entertainment budget right there.

 

And you know how I feel about TV --- it is the worst drug problem in the USA. Drug I say?

 

1) If you quit cold turkey you will have withdrawal symptoms that can be severe including depression

 

2) The average American family watches 6 hours per day!!!

 

3) The drug has to get harder and harder. We had "Father Knows Best" in the 50s and "Sex In The City' in the 2000s

 

4) Your brain goes into a theta state much like it does when under the influence of some drugs and also under hypnotism.

 

5) The drug user cannot tell the difference between the drug experience and reality. Ask any actor who plays an evil person on TV. If he/she goes to a grocery store or other public place, the drug users will shout abusive words at the actor as if the actor was the character he/she plays on TV.

 

So now to your last question. What can we do about it?

 

1) Turn of the TV, cut of the antenna, and disconnect the cable. I did that in the 1980s and after the withdrawal symptoms subsided, I'm living a much happier and much more fulfilled life.

 

2) Encourage others to turn it off. That's what I'm doing here.

 

Remember, TV is an advertising media disguised as an entertainment media. 90% of all commercial media is owned by 7 corporations, and 50% of that is owned by Fox, General Electric and Disney. They are not only selling you products, but by filtering the content are manipulating your opinions about the world in general while you are in the hypnotic state (in the 60s we called it brainwashing). Fox, GE and Disney are going to choose their words and programming wisely to demonize anything that gets in the way of their corporate profits (including 'news' broadcasts).

 

Spread the word. Just say "No" to TV.

 

OK, I'm off my soap-box now.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Yeah, I did the same thing, Bob...years ago. There's no "TV" per se, in my home, except to watch

the DVD's I want to watch. No network, or advertising, as I have no cable, or even an antenna hooked up.

It's basically used, just as a monitor, for the DVD player. I found it, rather easy to "just say

no," to TV. Part of that, of course, was the fact that I was "ready" to do that...so, I didn't really

have any "withdrawal," as some folks can.

 

[biggrin] I was just thinking of the film "Network!" What a great satire, on the TV industry!

 

CB

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Here in the UK I've noticed a big increase in commercial breaks on tv. They were 3 mins and now they're 5 mins. Plus they're more frequent. I hate it. I often record a programme and watch it later to cut them out. On the band thing. I think it's still going over here. But it seems to be all tribute acts. I hate that though. I want to start a new band, but it won't be tribute. Perhaps that could be a reason people don't go to see them? They can see the original act on YouTube! Original material has to be the way forward.

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I think a lot of good points have been made about the regulations and laws of various forms having an impact. They seem to hit in all directions, some affecting the ability of the audience to be able to go out, and the cost increases of the venues.

 

The one thing not yet mentioned is real estate prices. I think here in portland, it has had a major impact, not just on the venues, but on the musicians AND the quality of music.

 

Naturally, high real estate means high rent.

 

It is much more expensive and risky for clubs to exist with higher rent. A lot of the old-gaurd clubs in the city and close in have closed up completely or moved out. I could almost sense it a few years back as leases seemed to run out. And obviously, for owners, it changes the numbers game. Not only do profits have to be higher, the amount of debt that can occur from bad nights when your profit/overhead ratio is lower.

 

. . .

 

This is a SAD post. Being a musician has always been a poor man's trade, but it seems the days of being a musician are over for most that would even choose the path. And, it would seem the separation of classes has taken it's toll and eliminated a whole trade.

 

Can't regulate what doesn't exist.

 

Completely agree Stein. Real estate prices, especially commercial prices, have risen far beyond the general rate of inflation for years. Several good "dive bar" gigs that I used to play in or help at, closed because their elderly owners found themselves sitting on a storefront property that was worth $1-2M, and figured that taking the cash was better than listening to bands argue that they should get 75% of a $450 door when the increase in alcohol profits the band generated was about $50

 

I did try to explain to some young bands that running a music venue is a huge amount of hard work and, in the long term, a bar owner , however much they like music, will only run a bar, or book bands, if it makes money . These bands generally attracted a young audience that purchased one bottle of water each, but were quite annoyed when I pointed out the commercial reality that the door had to help cover real estate taxes, licenses, liability insurance, depreciation, broken mic cords, zoning fights with the city, etc. and give the owner some sort of return on investment. The squeeze is on in both directions. The bar owners that I know who quit hosting live music usually gave me the same reply. I like doing it, - but I don't like it enough to loose money on it. Musicians give me approximately the same answer - i like working gigs, but when I compare the time and money I spend against the pay, I get $2.50 an hour, and I can have the same amount of fun playing a free party for friends

 

.

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