Out of Town Gigs - Are they that important?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Groover, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Well, I know it depends on city, gig, etc, but here is our scenerio:

    Our band "leader" keeps insisting on booking out of town gigs, most of them are 3-8 hour drives. And when discussing the band, out of town gigs seem to be the big goal to him.

    There is no guarantee of any money with these gigs, and I'd say 99.9% guaranteed that they are not paid gigs.. and low exposure for that matter as well.

    No special event, such as opening for a big name or anything like that. The band leader however keeps insisting that those gigs will look good on our band's "resume" (or whatever you want to call it...)

    The problem... Well, we live in an area with enough clubs that if we tried, we could probably play at least once or twice a month (which is fine with me at this point) without repeating a venue for a year, so honestly, it almost seems as a case of the grass is greener on the other side.

    We all have full time jobs and are mid to late 30's

    The big problem.... We keep losing band mates because nobody else feels "we are there yet" to be booking distant out of town gigs for no reason other than a check on our list...

    I'm now on that fence... About to drop the band as well 'cause the band leader's focus has almost converted to mostly out of town gigs. We are a three piece, so one person dropping out of the band is a major start over. It's happened twice already for the same reason, and I'm starting to reconsider my third attempt at this...

    That being said, of course I would do some gigs outside our city limits, but I feel there has to be more of a reason other than being able to say "we played here, here, and here, and we're a national act"

    I guess, I'm not seeing the point.

    Advice please. How would you handle it?

    I guess I'm venting....
  2. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    to be honest, i would quit that band. if you started building a huge crowd in your hometown (packing the bigger clubs in your area) then maybe a little out of town is okay. i would never drive 8 hours to a bar gig where nobody came to see you.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It all depends, dunnit? But yes, why isn't anyone working to book gigs where you live? There are plenty of good reasons to travel, but most of those have to do with increasing the range of your following.

    You should try to get a following first, THEN increase it.
  4. PocketTrio


    Feb 28, 2009
    I think playing gigs outside of your own city is important. It builds your credibility and rep both good or bad depending on how you play.

    You get to meet other bands and people who may really like you and want to play shows with you in the future making more gigs and better gigs possible.

    Gigs outside of town are fun especially when you're among friends.

    I would write more but the doorbell just rung

    best of luck!
  5. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    "There is no guarantee of any money with these gigs, and I'd say 99.9% guaranteed that they are not paid gigs.. and low exposure for that matter as well."

    You have answered your own question!

    :smug: ...
  6. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    My advice...just say no.

    Look at it like a business. From a practical input/output perspective, the chances of recouping your expenses (gas, food, accomodations, lost time, etc.) are negligble. Translation = money-losing proposition. So, is this investment of yours worth the chance of playing in front of a bar crowd that may or may not remember you or your band name the next day?

    The latest era of high and volatile gas prices has meant new economic realities for even the biggest touring bands and productions, as those big bus and truck shows have seen their bottom lines eaten away.

    So, there's really no good case to be made in my opinion for doing a show 8 hours away unless you are guaranteed and contracted a bottom line rate. No sense perpetuating the "starving artist" cliche by making a decidedly "artistic" decision that dollars just aren't that important!

  7. jwbassman

    jwbassman Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2006
    That sucks. Driving that far for nothing. You need to convince this guy that booking local shows for money is the way to go. Plus as others have said, you can slowly build a following. If this guy doesn't want to change I'd kiss the band good bye, or stick with the other guy and send the "leader" on his way and replace him.
  8. PocketTrio


    Feb 28, 2009
    oops lol I only read "are out of town gigs worth it"...
  9. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    I was in a similar situation. My band was in NYC and we played some shows as far away as Chicago and Austin.

    I think shows further away than four hours are pointless fir a small, unknown band. Unless you can keep going back to play those far shows, how are you gonna keep the locals interested in your music? You can't since they're so far away. That's the point of shows: getting new fans AND KEEPING the old ones.

    Whoopie! You played a show in another state. Too bad no one knows you in you hood. And what did you get out of it? An empty wallet!

    I don't me to sound like a downer, but my situation caused me to quit too. Don't get me wrong. Those tours to places unkown were fun. They just reaped us no benefits.

  10. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Tough question, so I guess it would depend on your situation and the towns you'd be playing in.

    While we have a pretty large music scene where I live, the largest university (and a top 10 party school in the country) is about 2 hours away. It's a long drive to venture into new territory where we probably wont bake any money, but there's potentially good exposure, and it's a band bonding trip.

    If you could get decent exposure, just want to take a small trip (I wouldn't play a gig more than 3 hours away - that's nuts), or just want to play somewhere new, do it. If not, don't.

    I don't think playing in other area codes should necessarily be a goal of the band.
  11. RobertPaulson


    Dec 11, 2008
    Des Moines
    Depends, if you are in a place that has a lot of venues and a solid music scene, out of town gigs matter a lot less initially. Sounds like that is the case with you, I certainly wouldn't be driving 6 hours to play a show if there were dozens of venues I hadn't played much if at all locally.

    My situation is a little different where I get bored playing the same 4 venues over and over so for me playing out is a lot more important. Luckily we are within a few hours of several good size cities so it works out ok.
  12. RobertPaulson


    Dec 11, 2008
    Des Moines
    also if playing out of town, I have found that small po-dunk town shows >>>>> city shows. There isn't much to do in most of those little towns so at least we tend to do way better there than in a town where there are 15 other shows going on that night. Just food for thought.
  13. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    We play out of town but only in a 2 hour radius and the further we go, the more money I charge. We would never play for free. The local club scene in our town is bad but we work steadily in neighboring cities.
  14. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA

    I couldn't agree with this statement more!!!
  15. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City

    I just quit a band recently for going out of town too often, and I was paid well, sometimes quite well, on all trips/gigs. This was an original blues power trio, we did our own driving/loading with occasional help. I too have the day gig, and had to sacrifice some vacation days to make gigs, though most of those trips were moneymakers. At the end of the day, it just wasn't worth it, for me. I'm not trying to be a rockstar, just want to have some fun and get paid accordingly, but going out of town on your own dime is bad enough. I quit because it just wasn't fun anymore.

    If you're looking to do this because you're dreaming of 'making it', that's a tough decision. If you're in it for more fun than profit, take a long hard look at the benefit versus effort ratio before you commit.

    Good luck..
  16. They're very important, but it doesn't sound like your band is doing it right (no offence).
    Build a strong local following then start branching out.

  17. I agree with that.

    Out of town gigs are more important if you ask me... In your home town it's just your mates. They are never completely honest no matter what you/they say.

    You don't need to go hours away, maybe once in a while... start to get a following in the surrounding town's and city's, build your name and reputation up, soon other people will be asking you to play in other towns n that. This could take years... And you might be asked to sell so many tickets... you might think it's not worth it... but you'll see in the long run you'll have a better name than all these bands who turn these gig's down... also more fan's and more money from ticket sales...

    Lastly, Word of mouth is the best publicity. Your not going to get far fast with just your own street talkin about you...
  18. modulusman

    modulusman Inactive

    Jan 18, 2004
    Groover, What exactly is your band trying to accomplish? It just seems dumb to me for guys in their mid to late 30s to be playing hours away from home for no MONEY. That kind of nonsense I would expect from a bunch of 20 years olds.
  19. I'm more than cool about travelling an hour out of town...

    IT's a different vibe in a small town.. it's nice to be around.

    I'd never pay to commute..

    Sounds as if your band needs some creative time on how to create a valuable act.

  20. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Then they are a waste of time and energy, IMHO

    Sounds like they get it ...

    I'd bail ... no dough = no go.

    Yeah, hope it feels better now ... :)