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Playing to a demographic....(slight rant)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jonas_24112, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    This is a bit of a rant...sorry....

    I've been playing in a 5-piece (2 gui****s, drummer, bass, lead singer) for a year now. The original direction of the band was to get out of the gates early gigging at small bars and within a year be able to market ourselves to the larger clubs around us. Early on, I conceded to playing classic & southern rock, blues, country, and bar standards to get us up and gigging quickly. We were all well versed in these genres and were gigging within 10 weeks of starting.

    But after we had a full set list, I was pretty adamant that any more new songs needed to be modern songs- dance, pop, new country, etc. (preferably released after 2000) because the best demographic to play to for the larger venues in our area are the 18-25 year olds. The band leader and lead singer did not listen and today we are still just a "bar band" playing lots of classics and standards. Our average demographic is I'm guessing 45+.

    Recently the BL tried to make a move and market us to the closest large venue. This venue recently shut its doors to renovate, add full bar, cages and changed its age limit to 18+ and then reopened. Looks like its been a success for them. They did so because another venue 1 hour away from them was blowing their socks off and taking a ton of their business. Both venues book many of the same bands. Truth be told, there are less than around 10 bands that play a regular rotation between these venues and the minimum booking is probably around $1500, but up to $3000+ depending on which band it is.

    Anyway, the manager of this venue told our BL he saw our press pack and video and he would not book us cause he will only book bands that play more modern music to keep the young crowd happy.

    So, what I had been telling the band for a year now finally comes true. And now the BL wants to completely replace our set lists within 3 months with mostly modern music (2000 and after). I'm so disgusted with the whole thing.

    Other problems are that I don't think our lead singer can sing this stuff and his heart isn't in it. He's in his 50's and pretty much stuck in ways. We really don't need a rhythm guitarist anymore to do this stuff, we need either tracks or keys. And I know the BL isn't going to replace either one of those guys.

    So, I've begun looking for another band. I'll hang around with this one until I find what I'm looking for. Just gonna keep my head down and bare it for now.....Peace
  2. Sounds like you're making the right move. At least the current band is willing to finally update, though. If the current lead singer's "heart isn't in it," they won't really succeed though.
  3. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Getting musicians to do anything modern is usually an uphill struggle, even when they see with their own eyes that the audience, including their personal friends, likes modern sounds. But now you have a BL who's on your side - is this really the time to quit? Can't you add a 20-year-old female singer to the band or talk the BL into doing a separate modern band on the side or something?

    Keys and sequences aren't really necessary IME, though they sure do help. Here's one of my bands with cajon and double bass doing a song that originally sounded like this. Sure, doing it with looped drums and synths would be better, but even in an acoustic version that's still possibly our biggest audience favorite ever. If you can play some synth lines on bass even if it means not playing the bassline, get a drummer with an electronic kit, and a guitarist who doesn't mind using effects to avoid sounding like a guitarist, you're more than halfway there.

    And as an aside, there's a lot of pre-2000 music which still sounds modern. La Bouche, 2 Unlimited, C&C Music Factory, even Technotronic or KLF will sound way more modern than Adele, Jessie J or Michel Teló. Not that there's anything wrong with playing songs by the last three... but Eurodance hits are the best of all worlds in some ways. Even 40-year-olds remember that stuff and react surprisingly positively to it.
  4. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    You certainly found your "I TOLD YOU SO" moment in short order.

    That being said, are you prepared to cut bait with this act so quickly? You have put some work into the project, and I would imagine this bit of a news may have lit a fire under your bandleader's arse.

    But I can also appreciate that you feel as though your advice on the business direction of the band was disregarded. In that respect, I think you may need to look at HOW you went about addressing your concerns to the band leader.

    An issue like this actually arose at my job very recently. A colleague/friend of mine is putting together a proposal for a new operating system that's going to have wide-reaching impact. However, there are competing proposals coming from other people within the company about the direction of this project. My friend had a meeting where he basically took apart the other proposal one piece at a time. But the response he got to his criticism focused more on his negativity rather than solutions to potential problems.

    So, we sat down and had a talk. I told him that he had to focus more on selling his idea than in taking apart the other proposal. And I also mentioned that the leadership in our group probably wanted to see more positivity. The two of us agreed that this came across as "rah-rah" nonsense. But he went into another meeting and sold his proposal with a more positive spin. And he managed to sway the opinion of this managing director in the favor of his proposal.

    I get your level of frustration with your band leadership. But when you get into some situations where you see that a change needs to be made, very often you have to take it on in a political fashion. Much like your concept of modernizing the play list to get gigs, sometimes you need to play to your audience when you try to steer the direction of a band or project. See where your band leader's head is at and work from there. Otherwise, you may find yourself bouncing from band to band, and ultimately developing a reputation as "being difficult".
  5. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Tell that to the cover bands in my area. They play all the radio crap they can cram into a set.
  6. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    That is why I refuse to play with people that think music stopped in 1980.
    The people that pack the big bars and clubs all week long do not listen to the classic rock station.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Definitely an "I told you so moment." But at least your BL is coming around. Enjoy the vindication and don't hold grudges.

    I know where you're at. My BL is always shooting down my suggestions of Black Keys and the Strokes in favor of Bad Company and Blue Oyster Cult. We do play Gold On the Ceiling, which he always kvetches about - at least once over the mic, at a gig. Last gig we played, a Halloween party, guess which was the ONE song that had the dance floor packed? Uh huh. Exactly.

    How old are you guys, btw? It's not like I'm such a young guy, I'm 42 (BL is 50), it's just a matter of paying attention to what audiences respond to.
  8. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    My sympathies. On Blue Oyster Cult and Bad Company being on the playlist, first and foremost. Second, sorry for your bandleader being such a curmudgeon. Have you shown him the way to Shady Pines yet?

  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I definitely know the feeling. There have been plenty of instances where advice I've given my band would be met by deaf ears only for them to respond strongly to the exact same advice a few months later when it is told by someone else. It's beyond frustrating, and it can even be infuriating at times.
  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    So now they're going to do what you want, and you're going to quit? If there were $1.5K to $2K gigs out there, I'd sure find a way to make it work. Get a new lead singer and hire a keyboardist. You'll be in hog heaven.
  11. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Really? What, specifically, are they playing? The Adele kind of "contemporary retro", or stuff like Nicki Minaj?
  12. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I see your point but the BL didn't listen to the OP and is now grudgingly making changes after the venue told him the same thing a year later.

    I'd hang in there whilst looking for another band.
  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Sounds like good paying venues.
    Get a new singer and consider becoming one.
  14. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    "Becoming one" is great advice. Well, it always is, but the more modern the music gets the more useful this becomes. A lot of the newer hits have multiple vocalists and it makes sense to split up the parts live, too. Plus there aren't really a lot of long instrumental breaks in a lot of these songs anymore, so doing three or four sets gets easier if you can split the vocals between 2-3 people, both as a matter of stamina and as a matter of memorizing lyrics.
  15. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    While I agree with this, in some markets those people are not much into live music anyway. Here in Miami DJs rule the big club scene. A band could play nothing but the hits of the last 3 years and STILL not crack that nut. And then if they went to the second tier clubs and bars, then guess what...most of the patrons in those joints are the over 35 crowd...........

    However, in the OP's case the market does seem to support bands that play newer music, so all I am saying is none of this stuff is absolute.