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Discussion Starter #1
We played last night in Thamesville. Really nice restaurant / bar. Kind of an odd set-up for live music, but it works.

We got set-up while the restaurant crowd was eating and leaving. Bar never did fill up. We played to about 15-20 people, all at the pool table end of the bar.

Man does it suck playing to no-one. You just can't get inspired, and as a result, the music suffers.

The DJ popped in and loved us. Most bar owners / staff really like us and always book us again right away, so I know our music is good.

It just reall sucks when there is no-one around to enjoy it. We're back again tonight, and we're obviously hoping for a better turn-out.
 

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This must be a hoax!

James, you must have imagined the sparse turnout!

I have it on good authority that there were thousands of non-smokers just waiting for the stink of tobacco smoke to clear out so they could come out in droves! Not only would they replace any lost business but going smoke-free would drastically increase it!

So either you were imagining things or it was a plot by the big tobacco companies to make the smoke-free folks look bad.

Or maybe it's the fault of George Bush or those seal-clubbers in Newfoundland...

Sorry James, I just couldn't resist! ;_)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wild Bill said:
James, you must have imagined the sparse turnout!

I have it on good authority that there were thousands of non-smokers just waiting for the stink of tobacco smoke to clear out so they could come out in droves! Not only would they replace any lost business but going smoke-free would drastically increase it!

So either you were imagining things or it was a plot by the big tobacco companies to make the smoke-free folks look bad.

Or maybe it's the fault of George Bush or those seal-clubbers in Newfoundland...

Sorry James, I just couldn't resist! ;_)

Well, you pretty much hit the nail on its sarcastic head! :tongue:

The singer and I were telling the other guys what it used to be like back in the late 80's / early 90's when you would play in a bar and they were pakced on a regular basis. Of course you'd lose your singing voice and go home reaking of smoke.
 

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james on bass said:
Well, you pretty much hit the nail on its sarcastic head! :tongue:

The singer and I were telling the other guys what it used to be like back in the late 80's / early 90's when you would play in a bar and they were pakced on a regular basis. Of course you'd lose your singing voice and go home reaking of smoke.
hey james you have a + beside your name on the bottom of the main page.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, it was no better last night. :mad:

Last song of the night, at 2:00am, this guy runs up and says how awesome we were and could we play some more. Well where the hell was he and everyone he knew the night before?!

Oh well - the Derby should be rocking in 2 weeks!!!
 

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...thank you for starting this thread - you beat me to it!

i am so sick of playing empty rooms. i'm sure that will all change once the word gets out that my band is made up of a bunch of aging crossdressers :eek: but in the meantime, we're stuck feeling like we should be apologizing to the club owner after every gig.

its somewhat reassuring to know that i'm not the only one but, damn! what are we going to do?

it doesn't help that most club owners go to great lengths to make their venues inhospitable - filthy washroom facilities, etc.

i would also like to see a few club owners be adventurous and try running the bands from 8:00 pm to midnight, with a post-show "party" after that.

there is a club in newmarket called fitzy's crabshack. the owner, larry, is actually a great guy. he wants to run live bands virtually every night of the week, but he's scratching his head wondering how in the hell he can get people to attend.

-dh
 

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james on bass said:
Well, it was no better last night. :mad:

Last song of the night, at 2:00am, this guy runs up and says how awesome we were and could we play some more. Well where the hell was he and everyone he knew the night before?!

Oh well - the Derby should be rocking in 2 weeks!!!
I agree an earlier start and finish is a great idea, especially on weeknights. Who can stay out till 2 am on a Monday?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I know what you mean about apologizing to the bar owners, but in many cases, they are pretty embarrassed as well that they bring in a fantastic band (their words) and no-one shows up to watch. We keep hearing it was busy the weekend before.

The idea of an early start is nice as well. I liked it when everyone got the bars at 9:30-10 at the latest and last call was at 1:00am. That extra hour really sucks. Can't see how the bars would get people in at 8 or 8:30 though.
 

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I agree that starting at 10:00 and finishing at 2:00 is madness.


9:00 ~ 1:00 was much better.


Empty bars? Well, I guess it's our job to get the bodies in the seats. That's why bars hire bands. It surely isn't out of some noble interest in supporting live music.


It does suck playing to an empty room but fortunately it doesn't happen to me often. Then again, we probably don't gig as much as some folks around here. We do one or two weekends a month and never play weekdays.


My favourite shows are all ages shows. I love seeing kids in the crowd. They're generally really impressed that old guys can rock out.
 

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Milkman said:
Well, I guess it's our job to get the bodies in the seats.
...i don't agree. i think its our job to play music. i will not work for any club owner/manager who puts the onus on ME to fill HIS venue.

however, for arguments sake, if it IS our job to fill the seats, how do we accomplish that?

first of all, the amount of money that bars pay will not allow for any advertising. secondly, you can only call up your friends so may times and plead with them to find a babysitter and come out and support your band.

-dh
 

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david henman said:
...i don't agree. i think its our job to play music. i will not work for any club owner/manager who puts the onus on ME to fill HIS venue.

however, for arguments sake, if it IS our job to fill the seats, how do we accomplish that?

first of all, the amount of money that bars pay will not allow for any advertising. secondly, you can only call up your friends so may times and plead with them to find a babysitter and come out and support your band.

-dh
Well, that's a bit like saying it isn't an employee's responsibility to ensure that his company is profitable.

Literally, that's true, but if the company isn't profitable the employee loses his job.

Lamenting that it wasn't his fault doesn't change the fact that he's no longer employed.


I do agree that the money isn't there and that bars could do much more to promote live music, but at the end of the day, bars will tend to hire bands that draw, not bands that are better musicians.

I hate that it's this way, but it is.
 

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Milkman said:
Well, that's a bit like saying it isn't an employee's responsibility to ensure that his company is profitable.
Literally, that's true, but if the company isn't profitable the employee loses his job.
Lamenting that it wasn't his fault doesn't change the fact that he's no longer employed.
I do agree that the money isn't there and that bars could do much more to promote live music, but at the end of the day, bars will tend to hire bands that draw, not bands that are better musicians.
I hate that it's this way, but it is.
...i see your point, but by that logic, since the bar staff are also dependent on the profitability of the venue, on a FULL TIME basis, wouldn't that put most of the onus on them?

in fact, many (if not most) of the bar owners i work for don't put the onus on me to draw a crowd. they actually do believe that its their responsibility to bring people into their venue, and my responsibility to not chase them away.

not to revisit a very controversial thread, but one of the big enticements to going to bars was being able to drink AND smoke AND socialize. RIDE programs and smoking bans appear, at least, to have removed much of that enticement. however, i won't argue with any of you if you say this is a poor argument.

there was a time when all you had to do was hire a band and flash an open sign. especially in suburban and rural environs. those days are definitely history, and club owners everywhere are scratching their heads and wondering what they could and/or should be doing to get people to come out.

-dh
 

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It's all a conspiracy!

I can only speak with experience from my neck of the woods but here's how it looks to me!

Back in the early 90's we had a bad recession and a lot of clubs folded or were sold to new owners. It seemed to me that these new owners didn't have a clue how bands fitted into their venue. They were "downsized" from Stelco or Proctor and Gamble so they took their severance and bought a club. No doubt they thought anybody could run one!

First off, they couldn't seem to make up their mind whether they were a club or a restaurant. Stages for the band disappeared to add a few tables. Dance floors now are rarely seen! The building is an old house converted into a club/restaurant. The band is shoved into a corner facing in absolutely the worst possible direction and there's only one electrical outlet for the entire band! The poor waitresses bravely try to push the food all night 'cuz the kitchen stays open in hopes of another $10 of chicken wings being sold.

The local paper has a free listing service. All the club owner has to do is dial the phone and tell them who he has playing on which night. Few of them ever do. I never see a marquee with a picture of next week's band. There's no consistency in the type of music offered so it's a crap shoot to find out if it's worth having come out.

In olden times we played 30-40 minute sets with 20 minute breaks. This meant that it was never that long before the band stopped and patrons could talk and pick each other up or whatever. Now sets are 90 minutes to two hours! I asked one of my customers why they do this and he told me the owners insist on it!

That makes no sense to me at all. Obviously the owners don't know the difference between a club scene and a concert venue. They are quite different.

Clubs had most of a century of experience to refine how bands fitted in as entertainment. During the 90's for whatever reasons that experience chain seems to have been broken in most of the clubs around my town.

It's very simple - bands are there to help people to have a good time so that they will drink beer! Dancers will spend more on beer than they will on chicken wings. The people are out to have a good time and maybe pick each other up and go get laid!

Bands should NEVER let owners tell them how to do their show. I watched in disgust as one club manager actually tried to dictate a band's set list! Talk about power going to one's head...

The band is there to make the beer sales flow and the owner is there to count his till at the end of the night. If he's not happy with the count then he should not hire the band back. PERIOD! The band doesn't tell him how to cook chicken wings.

It's sad but I truly believe we are witnessing the death of the traditional club scene. There are more reasons than I've stated above (tobacco laws seem to have been a total failure as to bringing non-smokers INTO clubs! If you don't believe me go into a few clubs and count 'em.) Pay is so low that it barely pays gas money. One local club pays $100 a night - for the entire band!

What seems to be taking its place is slam-dancing palaces and hiphop clubs. Slam dancers seem to cost more in damages than they spend in a club and hiphop venues attract idiots with revolvers. Bling bling...bang bang.

An interesting trend is that country bands seem to get more and better paying bookings. I asked another of my customers why and he told me it's because unlike rock country never abandoned the dancers! In fact, they were seeing more and more younger folks coming to their country gigs because the young girls wanted to dance.

I don't see any point in flogging a dead horse playing bars anymore. We need to find different ways of making money playing professionally. Private clubs and parties might be part of the answer. In the early days of Buddy Holly and the Quarrymen bands would rent their own dance halls and charge admission. Some of that might work too!

One little chippie was in charge of booking bands at a club here in Stoney Creek. She phoned up a bluesman friend of mine to ask if he could play her club on Friday night. Before he could answer she started ragging at him that if they didn't pack the place she'd never have them back!

Now this being a Wednesday the gig was only 2 nights away. My buddy asked her if she usually had a good crowd. She answered "NO! That's why I'm gonna pay you. It's YOUR job to fill the place!"

He asked if they had done any advertising and she said "No, but I shouldn't have to. Doesn't your band have a regular following that will show up?"

That's why I now believe that bands should bail on these kinds of clubs. It's not worth playing for this kind of money and aggravation. The forces that have changed this scene are not going to change more positively in the foreseeable future. It's futile to be a rock against the waves, you only will get ground down. Much better to find a different approach and surf through them!
 

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Wild Bill said:
It's sad but I truly believe we are witnessing the death of the traditional club scene. There are more reasons than I've stated above (tobacco laws seem to have been a total failure as to bringing non-smokers INTO clubs! If you don't believe me go into a few clubs and count 'em.)
...again, not to stir up an old controversy, but i have to concur, bill. on any given night, the number of people smoking outside is, at the VERY least, DOUBLE the number of non-smokers inside!

great post, bill. i can easily identify with your every word.

the solution i am looking at is getting some product out there and then trying to get on the festival circuit.

-dh
 

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Discussion Starter #16
david henman said:
...in fact, many (if not most) of the bar owners i work for don't put the onus on me to draw a crowd. they actually do believe that its their responsibility to bring people into their venue, and my responsibility to not chase them away.

-dh
Exactly how I feel the onus is for us. I can only ask friends and family to travel so far so often to see us. We show up early, start and finish when the bar owner asks us to, we maybe have 2 drinks each, usually just water and we play a solid mix of tunes that impresses most everyone. Bar owners are always happy to book us back, but always a little embarrassed at turn-outs. I've even had bar-owners call other bars on our behalf (their suggestion) to get us gigs at other bars.
 

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My band does about 100 shows a year. Our ages: 45,48,48,48,52.

Maybe 3 bars. The rest? CORPORATES!

Law firms, telecom companies, member/guest tournaments at golf courses (this is especially important: well-heeled members at private golf courses have money to burn - and they are all our age! They want classic and 60's rock), fundraising galas, municipal fairs, etc.etc.

Corporations either have to spend their excess profits on lavish parties or pay tax on it. Put the idea in their head first!

Suggestions:

1) Get cozy with a local sound/production company - find out where they have sound systems booked - try to get on the bill or at least get a name.

2) Produce your own show! We do a harbour boat cruise every year for the last 6 years and it's sold out clean every year. 150 tickets @ $60.00 each - do you know 150 people between the 4 or 5 of you? $$$$$!!

There's no reason you can't produce your own NYE gig even if you only have a modest following!

3) Look in the yellow Pages under "Event Planners"! Send them a package!

You don't have a "package"? (bio - marketing kit) - then make one.

Forget about the bars my brothers - those days are over....
 

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FrogRick12 said:
My band does about 100 shows a year. Our ages: 45,48,48,48,52.

Maybe 3 bars. The rest? CORPORATES!

Law firms, telecom companies, member/guest tournaments at golf courses (this is especially important: well-heeled members at private golf courses have money to burn - and they are all our age! They want classic and 60's rock), fundraising galas, municipal fairs, etc.etc.

Corporations either have to spend their excess profits on lavish parties or pay tax on it. Put the idea in their head first!

Suggestions:

1) Get cozy with a local sound/production company - find out where they have sound systems booked - try to get on the bill or at least get a name.

2) Produce your own show! We do a harbour boat cruise every year for the last 6 years and it's sold out clean every year. 150 tickets @ $60.00 each - do you know 150 people between the 4 or 5 of you? $$$$$!!

There's no reason you can't produce your own NYE gig even if you only have a modest following!

3) Look in the yellow Pages under "Event Planners"! Send them a package!

You don't have a "package"? (bio - marketing kit) - then make one.

Forget about the bars my brothers - those days are over....

Good advice



We actually do a few such events each year including a couple of shows we organize ourselves. As a matter of fact our biggest show of the year is our annual summer bash (Saturday July 15 this year) which we hold on a farm in Mount Pleasant.

We have four bands including ours and it's always the most rewarding performance we do each year.
 

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FrogRick12 said:
My band does about 100 shows a year. Our ages: 45,48,48,48,52.
Maybe 3 bars. The rest? CORPORATES!
Law firms, telecom companies, member/guest tournaments at golf courses (this is especially important: well-heeled members at private golf courses have money to burn - and they are all our age! They want classic and 60's rock), fundraising galas, municipal fairs, etc.etc.
Corporations either have to spend their excess profits on lavish parties or pay tax on it. Put the idea in their head first!
Suggestions:
1) Get cozy with a local sound/production company - find out where they have sound systems booked - try to get on the bill or at least get a name.
2) Produce your own show! We do a harbour boat cruise every year for the last 6 years and it's sold out clean every year. 150 tickets @ $60.00 each - do you know 150 people between the 4 or 5 of you? $$$$$!!
There's no reason you can't produce your own NYE gig even if you only have a modest following!
3) Look in the yellow Pages under "Event Planners"! Send them a package!
You don't have a "package"? (bio - marketing kit) - then make one.
Forget about the bars my brothers - those days are over....
...great post, brother! much appreciated!

btw, out of curiousity i started a similar thread on the american gear page:

http://thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=152755

-dh
 

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Discussion Starter #20
jroberts said:
Just out of curiosity, for the guys playing to empty bars, what kind of music do you play?
Classic rock - Zep, Hendrix, Cream, Beatles, Rush, Floyd etc...

Was a little better when I was playing country, but not much.
 
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