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Original bands who cannot draw - a chronic problem

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Jason P Bass, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. Do you guys have original bands in your area that have absolutely no fan base? Some of them might be great musicians, some of them might suck. They might have great original material or not. But the common thread - these guys have no fan base.

    That's no skin off of my back, but have you ever noticed how guys from these bands can whine, and whine, and whine about how it's so unfair that they cannot make any money (without any fan base)? Then they'll whine about how they can't get any gigs (without any fan base). Then they'll whine about how a cheaper band (without any fan base) stole their gig.

    Is this universal? Are there original bands with no fan base that whine all around the world?

    In your opinion, why do they spend so much time and energy on whining instead of promoting their band, or writing better material, or improving their skills?

    I'm really fascinated by these people, like looking a car crash on the highway. I've always been a person who solves problems through self-reflection, self-improvement, and hard work. I'm mystified by people who find a problem and, instead of trying to solve it, whine about it endlessly. It seems like a terribly unsatisfying, disappointing way to live your life. Thoughts?
  2. it's a lot easier to whine!

    this is part of the reason there is little room at the top and a lotta room at the bottom. . .
  3. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    I just ignore them, or pawn them off on my drummer :) . They will never go anywhere. getting a basic fan base is easy. You see there are these people called friends. they should make up the core of your fan base. Get friends to come out and show support and crowds (like mobs) will form, and more and more people will eventually come out to your show. Also they need to build from the bottom. don't expect to be playing big gigs right off the bat, try playing parties, pig roasts, etc to build a fan base.
  4. worxforme

    worxforme Self Actualized Bad Speller

    Dec 10, 2009
    LAnsing MI
    I played in a touring original band in the late 80's and 90's before all the social media was around; it was tough then and even today it's tough.

    When I see bands with no fan bass, good or bad, I try to talk to them in between sets. If they "whine" sometimes they are just reaching out for help or are young and don't understand; sometimes they tell me about how they don't have time to practice as much as they would like and I offer them an encouraging suggestion or two, tell them about the 168 rule and then try to enjoy their music.
  5. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Blame it on the Guitar Hero, Rock Band generation.

    You are spot on, best to spend time on yourself and your product then whining about other's success.

    I'm surprised that an original band would get paid much if at all in your area anyway. But yes, if a band doesn't draw, and another band doesn't draw, and one is cheaper then another, of course a bar owner is going to go with cheap. Why pay cadillac prices for a hyundai performance?

    I personally had bands when I was starting that were packed with fabulous musicians but we could never seem to grab a hold. Some was the music, some was that we didn't have that on and off stage charisma, some was that the music scene we were in didn't match the music we were writing or playing. Drew but poorly.

    The Baby Seal Club, one of my best known bands, was a collection of talented but not gifted musicians who just gelled and had a connection to the audience. Our music was soooo much simpler and more commercial then some of the other bands and people liked it. On our first record release party we drew over 200 people to a small club in Long Branch NJ known as the Brighton Bar. On the bill that night was another band that was doing their first gig ever called, "Eves Plum". Yep, that Eves Plum, who went on to a couple of great college radio hits, had a couple of decent albums and also spawned my good friend Vitamin C, yes, of platinum hit fame. (Shameless name dropping because I really don't do that much.)

    I have been known to whine for a minute or two about how certain bands draw but others don't, but then I do exactly what you suggest, go think about it, meditate on it and retool. I go out and promote, promote, promote.

    Tell those whiny b__stards in DC watch out, I'm gonna come down and then they really will have something to whine about, because they will never get any gigs again after I and my friends blow through. ')
  6. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    tough to do all originals and get people to come listen to you. i think you have to start by doing covers mostly and sneak in one or two of your originals until you get a following...
  7. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I don't hear any of them whining. I think this thread was started by Jason P.Bass to try to drive home whatever point he was making on the other "Bands playing free" thread.

    Since when do original bands get paid? lol
  8. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Because its easier to whine and see problems with others than look within and see where the problem really lies.

    If you don't have a draw, you either don't have good music or you don't know how to promote your band. If you have good music and promote it well, you will build fans. Simple as.
  9. Klonk


    Apr 28, 2011
    Sounds familiar indeed. But as one poster said, friends should make up most of the fan base, and if you play smaller gigs, BBQs, parties, etc, you should get a following pretty soon (as long as you sound ok).

    That's what my band does, we don't have a huge following, but we always get 150-200 people showing up, which means a full house for us (we play small clubs mostly). Money, on the other hand, is not an issue, we don't earn money by playing, but it's fun to play gigs, so if we break even, it's worth doing.
  10. Rebop


    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    My band has little draw at the local venues. We really don't care as we get paid the same either way (problem #1). However, we are not 100% original. We do 60% of our set as covers to keep the paying gigs coming. I don't think my "friends" have ever come to see me play with this band and I've been in it since 2006. On a good night, about 5 people will come out especially to see us (and half are usually other musicians in town). My opinion is that we gig too much (2-3 gigs a week) so people have already gotten their fill. We were written up in a couple local magazines and rags a few years ago. After that it seemed everyone and their mom came out to see us but then tapered off abruptly after a week or two. We play so many gigs that most people can't be bothered to come out to all of them, so they come out to none of them now. Also, the style of music we play is really unpopular down here (rockabilly, country, western swing, etc). Out of town gigs are a completely different story though. We actually had a decent crowd at every venue when we did an east coast tour last year. So yeah, just no hometown love. Another thing that I think hurts us is that the bandleader doesn't understand how to work a crowd or keep a crowd. If he wants to keep the crowd in the bar on a slow night, he will insist we play for about 2 hours straight for the first set. My opinion is that actually burns everyone out. He got yelled at (sort of) last week by a club owner over it and rightfully so.

    Clubowner: Hey, I'm charging a $5 cover at the door so people have already paid to be here. You don't need to play that long. Everyone left cuz they got their fill. Please don't play hour and a half sets.
    bandleader: Oh that was only an hour and fifteen!
    bandleader: oh... we usually play 2 hours to keep the crowd.
    Clubowner: that doesn't work. They left because they got their fill. Play short and keep them wanting more.
    bandleader: other clubs like it when we play that long.
    Clubowner: that's because the other club owners are blood suckers.
    bandleader: oh...
    Me: :facepalm: -thought bubble- I'm in a band with an a$$.

    I have no say in the band but I have been insisting we play really short sets. Like 45 minutes instead of 90 or 140 minutes. I've even been asking the bar regulars I'm acquainted with their take. "we need a break too" is the general consensus. This band makes me decent side-money but I think I'd be genuinely happier if I played less gigs with shorter sets. The band I'm in now has a lot of examples of "what not to do". Over-saturating the "market" by playing lots of gigs and playing sets that are too long are a sure fire way to kill a following in my opinion. On the other hand, we gig more than almost any other band in town (until now as we're having drummer problems; nobody can commit to all the gigs). If the bandleader had a day job and wasn't relying on the gigs to make ends meet he would probably do things much, much differently. In my opinion, you shouldn't try to pay the bills with an originals band as it kills the image of the band.

    Sorry, I could go on and on.
  11. knigel


    Apr 20, 2009
    Hopedale, MA
    I'm the Squier of Fenderbirds
    Ha ha yep. I try to take my free beer home in my pockets, but all I get is wet pants.
  12. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Since they were able to increase the takings of the bar by more than their fee, plus stand up for their right to be paid. Obviously that only applies to established original bands, with a decent following.

    I play music for fun, but I can't afford to pay touring expenses AND not earn money for the time I'm on tour! Club owners can choose to take the new band that will pay for free, or they can pony up our fee and we'll both end the night with more money than if they'd taken the free band.
  13. The problem is that people want to hear songs that they are familiar with. If you do not get airplay, your fan base will be very limited even if the band is good.
  14. the problem is no one cares about seeing a band live nowadays.

    tbh i doubt if people really want to hear anything new nowadays. they would rather stay in and hear generic music like nickleback even though theres bands out there that are trying so hard to sound diffrent and promote themselfs

    the internet genaration has lowered most people expectations of what a band should be. singers have to sound perfic, guitar players shouldent solo, bass players should only do root notes and drummers need only play in 4/4
  15. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Spot on! If you are playing the whole night, SHORTER SETS! Gives the audience a break, gives the band a break, gives you time to refocus if need be, and also means people will be less bored. Nothing worse then listening to a band and they break out into five or six 7 minute songs along with the rest of the set. Playing for an hour, unless its 12:30 and you need to keep it going till the bar closes, is stupid!

    Send your band leader to me. I have a knucklehead sandwich for him!
  16. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    What is the 168 rule? I surmise it has something to do with how many hours there are in a week. But, what is the rule?
  17. MN_Bass


    Sep 21, 2008
    I play in a original band, we have a ok following, we can usually pull about $100 a show. But we put the money in the band account for merch, pressings, etc. We all work and do this because its our passion. It does suck when you put lots of effort, loading gear, promoting etc and you have 25 people watching you, but its better than playing with yourself in the basement :)
  18. it's all about $$. add covers and get good paying gigs and play in front of more people still seems the best way. if you do have a fan base (small or medium) and playing all original places that soak fans for covers and drink minimums w/ 45minute sets is a sure way to shrink your fan base.

    I have to REALLY like your music to want to hear more than two or three tunes back to back - and figure a good portion dont know any (or maybe one) of your tunes. I'll go see a band do a cover/original mix for a night - easier to stomach. Your tunes may mean everything to you but few will feel the same . . . ymmv imo etc.
  19. Well I don't want to give the wrong impression. You can make money playing originals if you can draw people.

    If you can draw people, then you can sell tickets.

    If you can sell tickets, you can book some nice gigs and make some money from the club. Of course, real profit comes from selling CDs and merch.

    I'm playing a show tonight where we expect to make around $400 from the club. Subtract $100 for postcard fliers, $100 for tickets we comped to "connected" people, $100 for the photographers we hired, and we net $100. Consider the time we spent sending 200+ emails to local media, the 50+ facebook posts and invites, and the other hoops we jumped through, we're not even going to break even.

    But the club will be sold out. The management will love us, and will ask us to come back as soon as possible. Nobody is stealing our gig.

    And it's all part of the master plan - build your fan base. Right now, on any given night, we can draw 20-30 people. That's tiny, tiny potatoes. When we can snap our fingers and draw 100+ people, then we can start demanding a fat pay day. We break even tonight - who cares - we have photographers, a video crew, and 300 people are going to see our live show. That's how we build the fan base today, and also how we roll it forward - this gig is going to help us gain fans for awhile to come through photos and videos.

    Come to DC any time. We have, IMO, a scene that's trying desperately to become something, but just can't seem to get traction.
  20. See my post above - getting paid tonight. If we sell lots of CDs and shirts, we might even profit.

    I'm not trying to drive home anything - this is exactly the same thread as the other "chronic problem" thread, except I described the problem from a hard worker's perspective. I admit that I'm curious to see where this thread goes, but I suspect it'll be a lot of "Yeah, me too" and then a quiet death.

    It's much more self-amusing to whine.

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