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Are Local Venues Killing Music?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by socialleper, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    On Talk Bass we flap our gums a lot about the damage digital streaming has done to the revenues of original artists. But what about the damage being done at the roots of the music biz; the local venue? As a guy trying to play smaller clubs and bars, it seems to me like these guys are doing just as much to stifle the music biz as pirates.
    When was the last time you went to a gig not to play, not to see a friend play, or not to see a bigger artist play? When was the last time you wanted to just be at a nearby bar or club? (If there is even a nearby bar or club.) As a consumer, by and large, most of them are dumps I don't want to be at. They are usually in sketchy parts of town with no parking and a weak selection of overpriced drinks served by a salty (at best) employees. Even ones that are only a few years old look decades old. Oh boy, more black and darkwood with red lighting! Will I get a staph infection from the bathroom? Who knows, it is out of order; not that the door really closed anyway. Really the only driver for these places are the live bands.
    And how do they treat their live bands? Well, again, no parking. If you if leave your gear in the car it is totally going to get stolen. Loading in is through the small front door everyone is standing in front of. (Don't worry miss; go ahead and block my way while I drag gear that weighs more than you do, around you.) Stairs? Awesome! Is that a stage or two pallets you stacked on top of each other in the corner and painted black? They do such a great job advertising that the only people in there are the people I brought to the show. And for all the hard work they did, obviously they don't need to share the door or bar take with me; a solo cup half filled with Bud Light will pay for my gas and time.
    Local venues seem to put zero effort into their appearance or amenities, then complain they aren't making any money. No duh; your venue is unattractive, has no vibe, and is a pain in the backside for customers and bands alike. If these small venues are the birth places of up and coming musicians, and are apathetically slumming their ways towards insolvency, where will the next generation of musicians go to cut their teeth? Where will young men or women go to catch the music bug? Will people want to go live it up at a place that throbs with the aura of necrotizing dreams?
    It feels to me like a little paint, a mop, and maybe some working urinals could go a long way to rejuvenate local music scenes. Am I wrong? Am I taking crazy pills here?
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I agree with you. Venues have not changed much in all the years I have been gigging.
    Nowadays sports bars are the thing. 20 flat screen TV's and 50 patrons
    glued to their i-phones. Less venues every year will lead to the demise
    of local music.
    People will drop $100 to see a big show but won't spend $10 at local venue.
    Were doomed.
  3. and the carpets......:rollno:....don't get me started about the carpets...
  4. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Tell me about the carpets.....I need to know :hyper:
  5. Never been cleaned since they opened the bar.
  6. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i've been in venues where turning up the lights is a big mistake... the carpets have years - sometimes decades - of fluids of all sorts, all full of dirt and dust and germs. and SUCH an interesting smell some have, from years of spilling booze, soda and juice into the carpets without steam cleaning... plus residual cigarette smell from years gone by...

    some are so dirty that if you have lighter colored woven outside cables (which i unfortunately did at once point) that just having them on the floor during shows will turn them grey or scary brown.
  7. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    IMG_0219.JPG Wow. Been there, done that. Glad that I'm living in South Texas now and get to play in places like this.
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Kinda, but kinda not.

    The bar business, from what I understand, is pretty high-risk. IIRC something like half of them go out of business within just their first year or two. You can make a killing in them if you strike gold and become the hip place in town where everyone wants to go; but otherwise you're scraping by on a poor margin or bleeding money.

    When it comes to having a band, or not, it's a pretty straightforward calculation; will having a band mean I make more money than I would have made if I didn't have the band? If just as many people come and drink just as much and I don't have to fork over $500 to musicians, then I'm $500 more in the black. Having music makes sense only if it means more money in the till than I pay the musicians.

    Depending on where you are, there's going to be a kind of ecosystem, where the population and demographics of the area are only going to be able to support a limited number of prime-quality clubs that can afford to really support live music. Then you'll have a string of second-tier places that barely scrape by but maybe the owners like having bands so they have them in anyway, and then desperate dives that probably won't last long but hey, maybe if we get a band in here it will bring in some customers. Bands have fans, right?

    I had my eyes opened about this when I was reading about the early days of American punk. CBGB's, the legendary CBGB's, was actually EXACTLY the kind of ****hole that you describe as to blame for killing live music - but it was ground zero for American punk, and later New Wave (Blondie and the Talking Heads came out of its scene). The other thing that really impressed me was how FEW venues those bands had to play in - CBGB's, Max's, and maybe two or three other places - in NEW YORK CITY. That gives me a bit of a perspective when I feel like there aren't enough venues for bands in little ole Manchester NH.
  9. mwbassace


    Jul 26, 2010
    N.W. Ohio
    If you are perfectly fine playing the venue but not willing to frequent said venue, then BINGO, you are part of the problem. I very much enjoy not only playing but going to & seeing music at a multitude of places, dives included, & do often. I won't really disagree with the issues of improvements some venues need, even I as a lover of dives have a limit. But as hrodbert696 said these places are on a very tight bottem line & can either hire you to play or rebuild, choice is yours. And if your to good to patroinize the bar then don't bitch there's no where to play when they're gone.
  10. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I think weekend warrior hacks that play for no money/beer are the biggest threat to small live music venues that exists, assuming we're talking about cover acts. Original acts that often work solely for promotion need to roll with what they got. There's a middle ground somewhere...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
    ColdEye, Charlzm, Lownote38 and 15 others like this.
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Live music is dying. Plain and simple. If there's music it's DJ. People want to go out and watch TV. I'd rather watch a game at home on my 65" and eat my food and drink my drinks at half the cost. I can't watch/dance/listen to a live band in my house,
  12. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Aaaah but all that mojo.....:D
  13. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    My area is jam packed full of places to play. People who run these places are committed to live music. Frankly, if the band sucks or the venue doesn't have a band that night, people walk down the street and listen elsewhere
  14. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Where would that be?....
    PsyDocHill likes this.
  15. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Upstate NY. Saratoga/Albany/Lake George area. I'm in 4 bands. Used to be in 6!
  16. Miker27607


    Jan 3, 2015
    Raleigh NC
    There are clubs in my area that only have live music until midnight, since live music is for 'old people' who go home early. Then, from midnight until 2AM, when all the college kids come out, they'll have a DJ. I thought it was really strange at first, but now I see that it makes sense economically.

    Funny thing I overheard the other night at a gig. We were tearing down and these kids were coming into the bar. One of them said, "Oh look, old guys with guitars. They must be a country band." In their view, any music with actual instruments must be 'country'. (Never mind the fact that we play Motown, Soul, and Blues.)
    cchorney, jcerio, +6dB Dan and 5 others like this.
  17. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Conversely, I lived in SoCal for 17 years. Total opposite experience. Dj's, bump and grind clubs. Closer to the beach, tougher to find a gig.
  18. btmpancake

    btmpancake Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2015
    Apollo beach, Florida
    How 'bout this; A drummer friend of mine told me- club xyz could not play certain artists music or songs with a live band because the venue owner didn't, couldn't, wouldn't pay for a permit of some kind. The owner went back to the DJ.
    He swears the owner told him this and I been knowing the drummer for 50yrs. Sounds like a good excuse not to have live music to me, We'd just not do that artists music right? WRONG!!! He shut down all live bands. It could be a city ordinance thing too. IDK.
    cazclocker likes this.
  19. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    Hard to sell booze when the bar is responsible for patron's actions after they leave, even if they chugged a pint of Bacardi before they arrived at the bar. I've seen people shut off after 2 beers.
    Jhengsman, smogg and Novarocker like this.
  20. Coolhandjjl


    Oct 13, 2010
    People don't drink as much as they used to, hence most bars are a losing proposition.
    smogg likes this.

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