My traditional bluegrass band has been playing together for three years. Half of us were in college (non-traditionals, now graduated) and the other half taught in the same program. We've had a few membership changes, produced an album (three of the four members on the album are still in the band) and played all over the region (East TN, SWVA, Ohio, Kentucky, North and South Carolina). We play strictly traditional bluegrass, eschewing the newer music in the genre NOT because we don't like it, but because we have what we think is a niche: * We work a single mic setup, and vocals are one of our strongest points--our trio and quartet harmonies are sparkly. Good stuff. * Banjo, Upright Bass, Guitar, Fiddle/Mandolin * We write new music (songs and tunes) but they are still deep in the tradition. IME, the tendency for most folks (not here, necessarily) is to think of bluegrass as a back-porch hobby--and bg musicians as only hobbyists. But we really work to get this stuff just right. The banjo player plays just behind the beat, and knows how to drive--everything is in the pocket. Picking is great. Vocals are great. Really. Also, we're fairly nice guys. We have a handful of places we play, and we always get asked back. The problem: We can't seem to make even a good part-time income doing this. We are moving into various stages of burnout. Most of us don't want to tour incessantly. We're good for summer festival season, but we're getting tired of driving 2 hours for a $125 (band) gig. The venues that used to exist locally have all closed, or find that they can book indie or new-old time bands for cheap (college town, singer/songwriters abound). The distant gigs are topping out at $500, except for special events (weddings/holidays), and usually $250 plus dinner/drinks is what we can find. But we feel like we're spinning our wheels because we can't find paying Bluegrass gigs nearby, and even the ones within a day's drive cost us more in gas/food/dog boarding than we make as a four piece. If we play a room with 400 people, median age 60, we can sell half a dozen CDs... adding $30 to the pot. I guess my question is: Can you make a part-time living playing solid, traditional bluegrass without playing 250 dates a year to build up a following? Can you even then? This band won't change its format. Won't. Individually, we have outside interests that we COULD pursue, but the band is good, and it's because we've focused on doing This music This way. Certainly there are other dynamics. Guitarist/lead singer has a hard time learning originals, also can become unfocused in a live performance. Fiddler has teaching conflicts, and can't commit to every gig (so we pick up fill-ins, or go three-piece). I'm tired as heck of booking, and my day job just picked up, so less of that is getting done. Banjo player (BL) won't book (phone phobia). But these are actually pretty minor compared to what appears to be a lack of avenues for success unless we're willing to throw down everything and go on the road. Would LOVE some thoughts on this. Have only just started thinking about approaching a pro booking agency (have had paid amateurs try to help us: FAIL).