A long time ago, back in high school, our music room had a closet full of acoustic guitars. This was great! A couple of friends and myself would get in there and grab a guitar and jam after lunch, or breaks, but mainly when we should have been in study hall. Sometimes other kids would join us. We were always thrilled when this one senior girl (We were sophomores) would join us. We got all kinds of credit for being really cool in giving this girl guitar lessons, which would be better described as just showing her the chords we knew (“Stairway To Heaven” comes to mind). Anyhow, this girl thanked us up and down for teaching her how to play guitar, but if the truth be told, the pleasure was all ours as she had an amazing rack, and when she held one of those guitars on her lap, one of her “Girls” would hang into that curve on the topside of an acoustic guitar absolutely beautifully. Me and my buddies thought that was AWESOME!
In using my left brain to create and sell a necessity based product, I secure the consistent funding needed to introduce the original and unique product created by my right brain, to a new, and ever expanding audience of potential customers. This qualifies me as my own promotion company.
Damn! There sure are a lot of commercials on the radio for guys named Marshall, who sell art!
A long time ago, I started putting a hole in my guitar pick so I could carry it on my key chain, just in case I might be out somewhere and be asked to get up and jam. Subconsciously I knew that I liked having that little hole in my pick because it made holding onto my pick a lot easier. Though, as with so many times before, in not recognizing what I knew subconsciously, I missed out on yet another great money makin’ invention! Guitar picks with a big hole in ‘em! They are easy to hang onto, and once I used one, I couldn’t go back to the picks without holes, ’cause now they always feel like they are gonna just slip right out of that grip between my thumb and index finger.
Over the last three months, our band played an establishment every Saturday night.
The place had just opened up again, after being closed for a few months. Business was very thin, and us, being a new band (with not so new members), negotiated with the owner to get at least one steady night a week over the course of a three month period (And as it turns out, that’s exactly what we got!).
In having at least one steady night a week, we explained that we could then promote the place 24/7 for ALL Saturdays within that three month period, and not have to beg our peeps to show up on just one particular night (Which usually does not happen). I explained that we have plenty of people who would show up and hang out with us, but it was not going to happen all in one evening! Nobody draws their whole crowd in just one evening, not even a “Big Name” act! There will always be those folks who say “I wish I would have / could have been there”. In saying that in three months we could expand the flow of folks through the restaurant / bar on a Saturday night, we then had to prove it, and we did!
We struck up the band on time every week. The first set was ALWAYS an hour and a half, to show the universe we meant business! We concentrated on being a fun band, and playing what the people wanted to hear. We did our best to create a “Party Mood” for the night. We set our minds to not forgetting who we were playing for (Hint: Not ourselves!). So many musicians these days have forgotten that playing music is a CUSTOMER SERVICE ORIENTATED JOB! It’s not about you Man! Play what folks want to hear, then when and if you gain their interest, they’ll ask to hear your stuff.
Alas, due to a serious lack of ownership finesse, the place is closed down once again. Overall, the business did not do well. Our Saturday nights weren’t enough to carry the whole week, but we did exactly what we told the owner we would do! Week after week for those ten weeks, the graph did nothing but climb, and we didn’t have to beg our peeps to come out for one night only. We just let them know the times and the place, then made sure we were there at their convenience for when they were in the mood for a dose of the place, and would make it out.
If you own or manage an establishment, do yourself, and live music a favor; Find a band that sounds decent (Yep! That’s all it takes!). Get a band who plays what folks want to hear. Get a band whose members don’t complain about having to go pee pee after forty five minutes or an hour into the set. Get a band whose members realize that they are doing what they claim to love to do. Get a band whose members are tuned-in to getting to know the customers, hosting a party for those customers, and making those customers feel welcome and appreciated when they walk through the door! When you find a band like this, if a customer stays home for the evening, I guarantee they’ll be wondering what they are missing in your place!
Invest in this band for three months at a reasonable rate for everyone involved (Including you, the establishment!), and it might only take four to six weeks at one night a week. Sit back and watch what happens! The right band will be, and will have new customers touting your place 24/7! And, as long as the food, drinks and service measure up, you’ll build an ever expanding customer base who will pay, and tip very well for a fun night out! They just might start coming in for lunch also. Eventually, you may find these folks patronizing your establishment on days, and nights, when the band isn’t playing! Add this to the nights when the band is playing, and that spells B-U-S-Y! On the other hand, if you are an establishment owner / manager who, and I still can’t figure out the reasoning in this, insists on playing “Big Time Agent”, bouncing bands around from one week to the next, then at one point, you will most likely wind up with a crowd not so interested in the live music as they are the party. This crowd will be there only because their musician friend(s) begged ‘em to show up for one night only, to the designated “Party Place”, so they could see them play the cool tunes they wrote. Also, most likely with the latter crowd, your place will be really loud, and be vandalized to a point. After all, what do they care about your place? They wouldn’t be hanging out there at all if their musician friend(s) had chosen another place to play, free of charge. You will probably be able to pay for the damage however, with the money those kids spent in your place on that one night. You know, the money their folks gave them for school? Of course there are the DJs, and Karaoke also. I am of the opinion that the first generation sound wave: Instrument to Amplifier, Amplifier to Human Body, cannot, and will not, ever be truly replaced by even the best recorded sound. Recorded sound, compared to the sound waves that the recording was made from, comes off as one dimensional. At least in my world it does. As far as requests for tunes, and letting folks up on stage to share in some of the limelight, a good band can, and will pull these things off effectively, for the good of the show, and the establishment as a whole.
There also may be those who complain and whine about having the same band week after week. If those folks are staff, and that’s what they are focusing on, then we aren’t playing for those folks are we? They are supposed to be a part of what we all are trying to present to the customer! We are playing for the customers! Right? Luckily, we made some awesome friends, and felt like we were with family, where this particular establishment and it’s staff is concerned. In the case that a few customers may tire of the mood we present week after week, they will move on, to explore what else is going on out on the town. In the meantime, we will still be bringing in new customers. And, as absence makes the heart grow fonder, those customers who went out to explore, will most likely, in time, miss the ‘Ole Mood, and come back for another stretch, in their checking-in to see what is happening at the “Good ‘Ole Place”. We then can add these folks to those new folks we brought in during the interim, for an expanded customer base, can we not? With teamwork, and a little patience and persistence, this is nothing but an ongoing “Win” for everyone involved.
We didn’t make a hell of a lot of money during this last three months, but like I said, our band is new (less than a year old), and we did prove our point. We told the owner we would pack the place on Saturday nights within three months, and we did. For us, and for anyone running an establishment, and live music, the proof of our ability to start with nothing, and build to something, is of real worth, and we’ve taken this ability with us, along with now knowing all the cool people we met. They returned again and again over the course of those months to hang out with us, and we appreciate it! Those folks now know who we are, and we didn’t have that before this gig!
At this writing, the place has been closed for almost two weeks, and our band name is still on the small portable marquee sign out by the road. When I pass by and see it, on one hand, I feel very proud of our band, but on the other hand, I’m not sure having our band’s name on the marquee in front of a closed down establishment is a good thing. I guess I’ll just go with it! Any publicity is good publicity.
I have come by a few real good gigs from placing my ad on Craigslist, but I didn’t take all the gigs that I could have. Most notably, the gigs that would take place at someone’s residence.
I have no problem going to a public place to perform, but going to a stranger’s house freaks me out! I don’t like not having at least a reasonable idea of what I may be walking into! I get this vision of me at the bottom of a hole in somebodies basement floor, with some goon up top holdin’ a poodle, yellin’ down at me “IT PLAYS THE GUITAR AND SINGS!
Once some folks came into where I was playing, and they had a little girl with them. I would guess the little girl was four to seven years old. This little girl, once within good earshot of the sound I was making with my voice and guitar, began reaching up, and grabbing with her hands as if trying to snatch something out of thin air. Her parents later told me that she was blind and mentally challenged, and would do this whenever, it seemed, that she liked a sound she was hearing. I don’t know what that little girl would have done with my sound if she could have caught it, but I don’t think I could have been any more touched if had won a Grammy.
Of course I appreciate those who support what I do, but I also think that I should aspire to give something that captures attention, enthralls, and makes the onlooker curious. With this, they might just escape their concerns for at least a moment or two. I hope to come by the skill that would cause folks to naturally want to come out for a dose of what I do every now and then.
Nowadays in the entertainment industry, it seems that your product is your advertisement, and your advertisement is your product.
Sometimes someone will request a song that I just got done playin’. That’s a Bummer.