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Cracking Dead Music Scenes

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SnowCal, Mar 7, 2013.


  1. Long story short, two decent-sized cities (100k) nearby with ghost towns for music scenes. Places that young musicians flee and old ones with jobs get stuck in. Their local acts are entirely old-timey country and bluegrass groups. There's a market for such genres as rock there, I think, but there's not a scene for it. There's a nice live music place that is willing to pay okay money if we can pack their dance floor.

    What's the best way to crack this nut? My end goal is to play a once-a-month indie rock/dance night in these sort of places and drag along a band from here to support it. I see a bit of money if we can get it figured out, but more important to me is that I just want to gig more.

    Do you just schedule the venue's first 'rock night' on a Friday and promo the hell out of it realizing that none of the bands have a local draw but the genre might. Do we play on more old-timey bills to try to build a draw and then transition out of that?

    Any experiences with what works or doesn't here? Whether it's even worth the effort?

    I feel like just taking the plunge and seeing if we can figure it out. I don't see a lot of promise to playing more bluegrass or country nights with their regulars.
     
  2. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Jan 27, 2010
    Nashville
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Small towns can work out well sometimes because there's nothing else there to do. Don't look at it as a bar gig, make it an event. Yes, promote the heck out of it.
     
  3. You are on the right track. Just keep showing up. A buzz will follow.
     
  4. JakeF

    JakeF

    Apr 3, 2012
    Indie rock/dance music?

    Indie rock AND dance music or is this a different style of music.

    Most indie shows I've been to are people standing with their arms crossed.

    Like the idea though.
     
  5. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    I agree with the above.
    If I was trying to break in as the OP describes, I would think
    a that a rock cover band playing good dance music would have the highest chance of success.
     
  6. Indie is kind of a catch-all these days, at least around here. Any rock that isn't hard rock or metal gets labeled indie. It's a pretty broad genre these days, similar too but not the same as what alternative rock used to be.

    I dunno, we make a lot of dancing happen. I can't say that about all, or most of the local indie bands, but we and a couple others have figured it out.
     
  7. Absolutely. But we're an originals band with a fairly dance-oriented set. We place most of our heavy, rock stuff that's not easily danceable at either end of the sets and do a big dance thing in the middle. It usually takes a song or two for that to catch but it does every time. $10 to the prettiest girl in the room doesn't hurt.

    If we were a dancey rock cover band this would be a no-brainer, but as is I'm talking about importing some of my city's music scene which involves a lot of hassle for us. Finding bands to do the hour drive to support us, etc. Not sure it's worth the effort or how to approach it.
     
  8. That's what I'm thinking. This isn't really a small town though. It's a city of 100k. It just doesn't have good live music, unless you're a fan of bluegrass or outlaw country. I see huge potential for a danceable rock band to gig here once a month and pack the club. We'd be unique in a 'the only rock band that plays here' sense, and we're good, danceable, and accessible.

    I work in one of the two cities and am there all the time. It would be easy for me to do a lot of promo if we want to take the dive and just schedule a 'rock night' at the live music club. I see a Benjamin a head if it goes well.
     
  9. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Maybe you should consider mixing some dance covers
    with your original set. That way you can give the patrons the best of both worlds.I was in a fairly sucessful original band during most of the 90's.
    We would play a dance cover and then follow with a dance original. Most of the people stayed out on the dance floor.
     
  10. I've been involved in a similar endeavor where a particular venue has become very well known and popular as a place for bands playing original music (albeit not in a small town but rather in a massive metropolis).

    The keys are quality and consistency. I'd suggest having 3 good bands play one set each so they can do their best material and give it their all. Quality is essential and you need to keep punching at it until it sticks.
     
  11. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Look for a bar or club that doesn't usually have live music and see if you can convince them to start. You'll essentially be starting your own scene and you won't be stuck with the stigma of "You're not like the bands that usually play here" because there won't be any history at that venue to re-write.
     
  12. BryanM

    BryanM

    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    In addition to working with bands from your local scene, try contacting other local scenes in neighboring cities and work out some sort of arrangement with a venue or two so that bands will be willing to travel for the shows and it will be worth their travel time. In medium sized towns I've found it's very likely that a venue that consistently offers good music will draw a following. Much more consistently than a venue in larger cities might because while the larger city might have 10x more people, it has 100x more things to do, so you get 10% of the crowd.
     
  13. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Open your own bar. Then you can do whatever you want (as long as people keep drinkin'.....)
     
  14. Heh. Ukiah Bass, you're in the same world I am. We'll actually be driving through your neck of the woods for a tour kickoff in Santa Rosa in a few weeks. Played Ukiah with a genuinely terrible band a few years ago. That was maybe the only fun show I did with that band. Nice crowd.
     
  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    The crowd was undoubtedly filled with whacky tabacci, which would account for their enjoyment of your terrible band.
     
  16. What is it, a 1/3rd of the local economy?

    All I can say about that band is hot singerbabe, dictatorial band leader, and clarinet solos with a looper (see: dictatorial band leader).
     
  17. Thanks! This is top notch. I had it in my head that we had to gig the regular live music venues, which is a deterrent for us, but we don't. We have a decent PA and could work this game at a much cooler establishment than the local live dives. I'm getting a ton of ideas now.
     
  18. Richland123

    Richland123

    Apr 17, 2009
    I am in a steady work band and filling in with another band but the live music scene here (250,000 + people within an hour drive) is drying up fast and gigs are hard to get anymore. A couple groups have started hosting an early weeknight or Sunday afternoon jam session at bars not known for live bands. They make money, the club gets people, and the musicians get to try different things and songs as well as play with other musicians. I am talking about doing this at a place right now for a side project.
     
  19. bearfoot

    bearfoot

    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    i think all it's ever really meant is an unsigned, independent act or label, having nothing to do with genre - But quasi genres have been applied to it.
    Indy music though is just that, if I go to a conference its rock, folk, hip hop, whatever. Almost all of us are indy musicians.
     
  20. Most bands in every genre are indie in that sense, and I realize that this used to be what the term meant, but it is a specific genre now, if broad. U2 is a post-punk band. If they released Boy today they'd be an indie band. It's just the new label for an old sound. It's marketing.
     

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