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Why the transition to one nighters?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Factor88, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Plenty of guys on this board remember when it was very common, almost the norm, for cover band gigs to be multiple consecutive nights at the same venue. When I was playing around Philly and South Florida in the late 80s-early 90s it was very common to play 3-5 nights consecutively at the same bar. When I went to New England in the mid-90's almost all my gigs were Friday-Saturday combinations at the same bar. I then took a 5 year hiatus, and now back in Florida and it is rare to find bars that don't book only one-night stands. Now, maybe in your area consecutive nights are more common, so perhaps it is a regional thing….

    So, I'm asking, why did it change? Not the part about playing 5 nights a week (that has been discussed to death), but why did the consecutive nights dry up, even if only a Friday-Saturday? Anybody want to speculate? Anybody ever discussed this with club/bar owners? One could speculate that people get tired of seeing the same band any more than one night in a row…but why didn’t they get tired of that 15 years ago? I well remember the dynamics of a Friday-Saturday engagement: you would have the hard core girlfriends/wives and followers both nights, the bar’s hardcore regulars both nights, and the bulk of the crowd would be people who either came one night or the other based on what their favorite night to out was, or whatever their work/family schedule allowed. I’m not sure why any of that would have changed……but I guess it did.

    A follow up question, is given how much a PITA it can be to set up a good sound/light production, have any of you guys ever tried to negotiate a “volume discount” with a club/bar owner, where you charge slightly less per night if you get the whole weekend?
  2. Fewer people are going out now and demographic has changed

    Internet calendars make it different for venues
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    One nighters always were more expensive for my band. I'll play for free, it's lugging all the crap that I want to get paid for. Lugging all the crap in one day twice? Yeah, that'll be more money.
  4. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'm not a veteran who's been able to watch the scene, as you describe, but I do think you're right from what I hear. I think that as people have more entertainment options and tighter budgets, the "regulars" that the bar can count on returning multiple nights in a weekend are fewer in number. To make up for their absence, the venues lean on bands more to "draw" their family/friends/fans into the bar, and those people (also having other entertainment options and tighter budgets) probably aren't going to come to see the band both nights on the same weekend.

    There's one venue in our area that used to specify on their website not to book with them if you'd played any other venue in something like a 20 mile radius in the last six weeks (they seem to have taken that off their website now) - I assume meaning that they don't think your local fans will come out to come see you more often than that.
  5. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    I think this is probably the best answer to what is probably a complex issue. In the "good ole days" a bar owner could count on his place being relatively crowded no matter what, and it was up to the band to entertain and keep the crowd there. Now, it is up to the band to bring the crowd...leading to the one nighters. Since even a crappy garage band can sometimes scare up a number of family and friends one night a month, that leads to an overall decline in the quality of the entertainment on any given night in any given venue.
  6. ACNick

    ACNick Guest

    Oct 23, 2012
    South Florida
    South Florida (read: MIAMI) venues seem to get larger crowds when they hire a DJ to come in and blast radio tunes all night long (and probably cut their entertainment budget in half in the process). There are still nights when a live band will go in and play, but even then it will almost certainly be a cover band, pumping out the same radio hits. I always figured that was how it worked around here, since I have only been gigging for a few years, and only ever gigged in Miami.
  7. Denver/Metro area here, we have also seen a lot of one-nighters. We also offer a rate drop for back-to-back nights and charge full price for a one-nighter.

    The demographic has changed considerably. I think bar owners are trying to mix things up and increase the odds that they can get consistent draws. Some audiences are only good for one night, even if they like the band. Band X may draw on Friday night, but then they can attract another (fresh) crowd if they book Band Y that Saturday.

    I haven't done more than two consecutive nights since the 80's.

    Also, we're seeing a lot of half-empty rooms by the time the fourth set rolls around. No one wants to get pulled over.
  8. pbassnut

    pbassnut Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2004
    Falls Church, VA
    I did a two-night weekend gig this last Summer and it was my first multi-night engagement in 15 years. My theory is that the ratio of bands to gigs is so high that it's a buyer's market for venues and they must feel that the variety of entertainment makes for better business.
  9. I'd be annoyed to see the same band at a bar 2 nights in a row
  10. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    True. Flip side of that is that many people probably don't go to the same place two nights in a row.
  11. mikegug


    Oct 31, 2011
    In the places that used to book consecutive weekend nights, are they now booking only one night? If so, that may be part of the reason also. Money saver (in the eyes of the venue)?
  12. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    I don't doubt what you say, but remember that 15 years ago I could play at the same bar 5 nights in a row, for 3 weeks straight, and see the same faces on most nights, having fun. So my question was why are those people, or more properly, that philosophy, gone, while people like you are the only ones left?
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Back when I played in Colorado during the 90s, the ski towns would have back-to-back nights to make it more worthwhile for bands to make the arduous trek. Sometimes that drive can be downright scary in the winter.

    Some of it is DUI, but having moved to Denver/Boulder from Chicago, I think it has somewhat to do with the area. IME, IMO, Colorado is a daytime, outdoor activity type of place. Even in a college town like Boulder or Ft Collins, it wasn't uncommon to see folks straggle out around midnight. While in Chicago people were sleeping in on the weekends, lots of folks in Colorado would be up to go biking, skiiing, rock climbing, etc. I had lots of fun in Colorado, but it's just not a night-life type of place compared to other areas.

    DUIs were certainly an issue. I know 2 places that we played at regularly that were pretty much closed down due to cop stops.
  14. I have been saying this for years!!

    Of course, with the advent of micro-heads and IEMs, perhaps we shouldn't say it so loudly ;)
  15. Good points. Since I'm in the Denver Valley, I usually won't go into the mountains unless it's an upscale private high-dollar affair, and even then sometimes we'll require a couple of hotel rooms. Mountain pass driving in the wee hours when you're dead tired is a recipe for disaster.
  16. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    The simple answer is Popular Music. When we played 5-6 night stands in bars/clubs, the mainstream was listening to music that was readilly able to be played by bands, Hard Rock, Hair Metal, Classic rock, Dance etc.

    Today, the general population go to clubs to hear House Mixes and Hip Hop. This rhythm based computer mix is not what Musicians play, thus it is easier for clubs to have a Sound System and the ocassional DJ than a stage and hire bands. This is a more effective use of space for the club owner.

    Also from a personal standpoint, the quality of musicianship in Bands that I have seen between here, Tampa, Dallas,& Phoenix(where I travel regularly) is greatly diminished compared to the later 80's -Early 90's when you had to be excellent and have draw to play even the C clubs.
  17. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    You might be right, but I just went and pulled up the year-end TOP 40 chart for 1990. While the mainstream pop music wasn't all "unplayable", certainly no bands that I recall back then specialized in playing top 40. So the mainstream was listening to one form of music, but going out and seeing bands playing a different genre.......
  18. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    It's definitely part of the equation. The booking agencies have huge rosters of bands compared to the number of rooms they work. A good agency will typically spread the love around to keep the talent happy, so it's harder for them to give a band a back-to-back gig without costing another band on their roster work for that weekend. Even if a room doesn't use a booking agent, there are tons of bands calling for gigs.
  19. didn't have the extensive number of choices that people had 15 years ago.

    example: last night the kitchen to my group of friends favorite watering hole was closed and we were hungry. in less than a minute 10 other bars within 5 minutes were mentioned.

    bar A has band X thurs, fri, sat
    bar B has band Z thurs, fri, sat

    if you prefer bar A and dont care about the band you'll b at A thurs, fri, sat

    If you prefer band Z and dont care about the bar, you'll be at B

    now you have Bars A-L hosting bands M-Z on any given night.

    more choices.
  20. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Yep, I play in a classic rock cover band and the crowd starts thinning by the middle of the third set between 11 and 11:30. Must be cause we are getting older.