Monday, July 18, 2011

Dispatch Rant #1

I. Stop Going on Tour of Portland

II. Good Job Lauren Wayne

III. Stop Complaining About a $5 Cover

IV. I Dare You to Go Out and Listen To a Band You’ve Never Heard Before

Let's get down to brass tacks.

I. Stop Going on Tour of Portland

You've made a CD, record, EP or whatever. You're proud of it, your girlfriend loves it and your parents probably paid for it. The point is you've created something and there's a general sense of excitement around it. There's a favorable write up of your work in one of the local magazines, Mark gives it a few spins on Spinout and you book your CD release show. You put up five million posters, blast the hell out of Facebook and drum up a ton of buzz about your show. You play your CD release party and all your friends, family and a bunch of fans show up and the show is GREAT! The club owner is psyched, you're psyched, EVERYONE IS PSYCHED! Now you:

a) Law low and wait for the next good opportunity to play a good club on a good bill that will be promoted properly that will honor your hard work and provide the best listening experience for your fans.

b) Book a bunch of shows all around town, all within a week or two of each other, gutting out your draw and eventually reducing your audience pull to nothing until no one will book you and your band breaks up. Orrrrrr...

c) Break up immediately.

If your going for the Mission of Burma approach and want a small handful of people to hold you in the highest regard then c) is your only option. If you're looking to ruin everything then choose b). Thusly, if you're looking to sustain a career, we can see that a) is the only option.

Obviously I'm not talking about TV appearances and radio spots, these are great opportunities, especially if they're used to promote a killer upcoming show in town. I'm talking about having a show on the books, then taking a gig solo acoustic, opening up for your buddy for free a few days before your headlining show that you're charging $5-$10 for. Then a couple weeks later you're going to play that sweet free show that the City offered you in Monument Square and then 5 days after that you're offered an opening slot for a national act and then later the next month you book another headlining show at your favorite club and SURPRISE, 17 people come. Here's why: It's no longer "special" to see you because people have the "nah, I can see them for free anytime" attitude. Plus the people have “brand fatigue”. They may just be sick of seeing your name everywhere all the time.

Let's put it in more of a business perspective. How often do Cake or Wilco come to Portland? Once a year tops? Hell, even Badfish and Soulive limit their Portland appearances to 3 or 4 times a year. Furthermore, would you rather play 20 times and make $50-$100 each time or play twice and make $500-$1000 each time? The choice is clear, now smarten up and get famous. We're depending on you.

II. Good Job Lauren Wayne

Good job Lauren Wayne.

III. Stop complaining about a $5 cover

Every time I go out to a show, I pay the cover. Of course I occasionally have had friends put me on the guest list and I appreciate that, but those instances aside, I reach in my pocket every time. Why do I do this? Because I know how expensive it is for a musician to put on a show.

Strings, sticks, picks, space rent, van registration, insurance, guitars, cables, mics, practice PAs, keyboards, drums, hardware, software, recording a record, mastering the record, duplicating a record, printing shirts, making posters… by the time any musician even hits a stage they’ve shelled out thousands of dollars to get there. I’m not looking for special treatment or sympathy, but I just want to put things in perspective.

If you needed your toilet fixed, would you not expect to pay the plumber? After you eat, do you not pay your bill? If you find a shirt you like, do you steal it? When you’re at a concert, don’t you buy drinks? The point is that musicians work harder for less than any other group of people I know.

Stop being insulting (and looking like a jerk) by complaining about a cover charge equivalent to one beer. If $5 is too much for you, then you probably can’t afford to go out anyway, so you might as well stay home and listen to your Creed CD and drink a 6 pack of Twisted Tea (sorry Kevin) by yourself. Or you could go down to the Old Port and do Jello shots and do the gun/hand thing every time the gunshots happen in “Paper Planes”. I’ll be paying my cover, thanks.

IV. I Dare You to Go Out and Listen To a Band You’ve Never Heard Before

This may sound hypocritical coming from someone who essentially promotes a weekly cover song party, but I promise you, seeing new music doesn’t hurt. In fact it feels good! Just imagine if you were at a concert for the first time a band played a song that soon became the song that everyone around knows! You would have been at that show and could lean over to your friends and say “I saw these guys when they played this song for the first time”. Everyone would think you were cool and would buy you drinks and people would find you attractive. People would then look to you to show them what is cool and before you know it, you’d have your own reality show and clothing line and would be rich and famous and powerful. I dare you to be powerful, go see live original music.

Time for a cup of tea. See you at the show.




  1. I agree wholeheartedly! Except that I wish Lauren Wayne would book some hard rock shows at the State. I'm tired of dudes with beards and mandolins...

  2. Ahhh- but the beards and mandolins are selling more than the hard rockers at this yes- GOOD JOB LAUREN.

  3. I think if there were some good hard rock shows booked at the State, they'd sell out. The Beard and Mandolin Movement is almost at it's high water mark and soon it's gonna come crashing down. LET"S ROCK!!!