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Doomed to Fail?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Funky 1, Apr 30, 2010.


  1. Funky 1

    Funky 1

    Jun 29, 2006
    Chicagoland
    Ok. I apologize in advance if this gets long winded. Also, all are welcome to offer constructive opinions, but I am most interested in people who have actual experience or can point me in the direction of folks who have it.

    My band plays music that definitely falls into the niche category. We play original christian music that is not praise and worship or anything close to what one would hear in church. If I had to classify it, we play songs that are moral or sometimes political and we occasionally mention God or Jesus somewhere in the lyrics. Stylistically, I tell people we play everything from Punk to Funk. We are firm in our faith, but we do not beat folks over the head. The problem is that we are "too sacred for the sinners, and the saints wish we would leave" (to loosely quote Mark Heard). Playing either Christian music or original music probably limits our mass appeal at this point in the band's life, but playing both destines us to play small venues to small crowds. Bars don't necessarily want us, and churches expect p&w regardless of how many times we tell them we don't play that music. We all desire to play to larger audiences and don't want to only preach to the choir.

    At a recent band meeting, our guitarist proposed what I will call the Joe Bonamassa (spelling?) model. I am not sure of all the particulars, but in a nutshell and as I understand it, when Joe was starting out, he would rent VFW halls himself and would then work like hell to promote it - sometimes for a profit, sometimes not. Obviously this is the ultimate pay to play gig, but he at least had the chance to make some money from both ticket, merch, and probably bar sales.

    My questions are simple. Has anybody tried to follow this or know of other bands that followed a similar model? Was the eperience good or bad? Would you do it again?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Lurker79

    Lurker79

    Jul 3, 2008
    Hayward, CA
    Based on the description of yourselves, I think a pay to play scenario will be very difficult. If saints wish you'd leave and you're too sacred for sinners, you're gonna have to fool the hell outta people to get them to show. I'd rather stab myself with anything within arms reach than do another pay to play.
     
  3. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Please consider that the rest of us dont want to be preached at either. :meh:
     
  4. well, if your going to be preaching to people, then i'd have to say yes. sorry.
     
  5. Funky 1

    Funky 1

    Jun 29, 2006
    Chicagoland
    This is not meant to be a discussion on whether it's appropriate to talk about one's faith in public or not. We accept that not everybody wants to hear about it and how much or how little we talk about it is the bed that we're making for ourselves. My questions are about the "Joe Bonamassa model' and I would appreciate everyone limiting the discussion to that topic.

    Thanks
     
  6. Lurker79

    Lurker79

    Jul 3, 2008
    Hayward, CA
    Never heard of the model. Pay to play sucks. Horribly.
     
  7. jakelly

    jakelly Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    Ever see La Bamba? Ritchie's mom got a VFW hall and they did promotion, painted posters, and packed the place for Ritchie's show. But that was in the movies.

    Seriously, I've always wanted to try to do just what you're talking about. It might be possible, but check into liability insurance, whether the hall covers that. Remember, Ritchie's brother came in drunk, started a big brawl and busted up the joint.:D
     
  8. Funky 1

    Funky 1

    Jun 29, 2006
    Chicagoland
    As another point of clarification, we will most likely try to get other bands to join us. We open for them, they open for us. Either we all get paid evenly or we all cover the loss evenly.
     
  9. It can work, but you need a strong diy ethic. You will need to dedicate a significant amount of time to promoting the show. If there is an internet forum dedicated to promoting shows in your area get on it and post actively. Make others feel like you care about the music scene as a whole and not just about how many people come to your shows. Go to shows in your area just to support other bands. This will likely get you some help with the promoting end of things and other bands to play with.
     
  10. onlyclave

    onlyclave

    Oct 28, 2005
    Seattle
    This.

    +1
     
  11. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I think your biggest mistake is letting the content of your lyrics define you. As if that somehow affects the quality of the music. From an artistic standpoint, it doesn't matter squat what you say to me in your lyrics, I'm going to enjoy or not enjoy your music regardless of how well your morals agree with mine. IMO an audience that DOES judge you by your views is not an audience that is artistically worth reaching or trying to reach. Why bother making a point of your spirituality or politicality in your music? The people are not there to listen to it, and you should not be there to tell them. If it comes up in your lyrics, that's fine, but anyone marketing themselves as religious or political is a sham not worth listening to. When the music becomes nothing but a vehicle to carry your message, then it's not music any longer.

    So here's the point: you don't play Christian music. There's no such thing. Saying that you do is only going to turn people off. However, you do sing Christian lyrics. If the music is GOOD, it won't matter to the less-than-devout. If you're just trying to preach, though, well then you'll have problems.
     
  12. He speaks the truth.
     
  13. Lurker79

    Lurker79

    Jul 3, 2008
    Hayward, CA
    It's Moses, you think he'd lie to you?
     
  14. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Listen to the lyrics of U2, Bruce Cockburn, or Van Morrison and you'll hear alot of reference to xianity.

    Maybe just play xian songs by those sorts of bands... sort of a "Tribute" if you will.


    Still bugs me that bands like yours tries to evangelize by slipping refererences to your belief system in your lyrics AND THEN looks for an apparently non-xian audience to push it onto. Sort of seems like an 'agenda' to me.

    But I'll shut up now.
     
  15. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Moses has spoken.. How can you argue with that??!!

    (And, he's right ;) )
     
  16. Funky 1

    Funky 1

    Jun 29, 2006
    Chicagoland
    Ok.
    I appreciate the comments, especially yours MOses. My personal beliefs mirror what you said here, though I've never stated them as eloquently. Alas, I am only one voice. The issue of content was brought up only to convey the idea that the places that will let us play are limited by certain decisions made about how to market or define ourselves - whether good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. However this is not the issue that I wish to discuss in this post.

    Let me say this again. This is not meant to be a discussion on whether it's appropriate to talk about one's faith in public or not. We accept that not everybody wants to hear about it and how much or how little we talk about it is the bed that we're making for ourselves. My questions are about the "Joe Bonamassa model' and I would appreciate everyone limiting the discussion to that topic.
     
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Doomed to Fail?

    How do you define fail. If you define it as not getting rich and famous then 99.99% of all bands fit that catagory.
     
  18. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I can tell you that this is also the DIY indie rock model from the 80s and 90s -- with the risks and rewards.

    The crucial difference is that the indie bands seldom had two advantages that you don't: they usually shared bills, and they played to small but generally pre-committed scenes.

    Without a following, you'll need to hook onto a scene to get people out to DIY shows. And if you're going it alone on DIY shows, it won't take too many shows going bust before you can't afford to go that route any more (unless you have a trust fund you've been itching to burn through :ninja:).

    In short, the lesson of DIY is you can't do it *by* yourself; DIY really takes a community--and a community is not the same as a fan base. If you don't have a local community that aligns with what you're doing, build one.
     
  19. Funky 1

    Funky 1

    Jun 29, 2006
    Chicagoland
    To me, in this context "doomed to fail" means losing money over the long hall (however long we choose to do this). I can accept losing money on a particular gig or two so long as we had the cash before hand in the band fund and will make it up shortly afterwards. Breaking even does not constitute failing.
     
  20. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I can tell you that this is also the DIY indie rock model from the 80s and 90s -- with the risks and rewards.

    The crucial difference is that the truly DIY indie bands that succeeded usually had two advantages that you don't: they usually shared bills, and they played to small but generally pre-committed scenes.

    Without a following, you'll need to hook onto a scene to get people out to DIY shows. And if you're going it alone on DIY shows, it won't take too many shows going bust before you can't afford to go that route any more (unless you have a trust fund you've been itching to burn through :ninja:).

    In short, the lesson of DIY is you can't do it *by* yourself; DIY really takes a community--and a community is not the same as a fan base. If you don't have a local community that aligns with what you're doing, build one.
     

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