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The Death of Local Music


Stroopy121
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Stole this from another forum but I thought it raised a couple of very interesting points.

As a popular form of entertainment, the time of local live music has passed. Society is no longer interested on any sustainable level.

My supporting thoughts:

The two opposing LA club articles demonstrate an enduring and unwinnable argument. Each side (the bands being one and the venues the other) recognizes that live music attendance usually fails to meet expectations and blames the other for inaction. Over the long term, this trend suggests that neither is at fault more than the other, but rather that local live music is a product without a customer.

The quality of live music is unpredictable and relatively uncontrollable by the venue management and therefore a risk compared to recorded music. I'm sure that most bar owners see fewer train wrecks and generally happier customers using DJs.

Entertainment options abound today versus 30 years ago - particularly at-home options. When I was 10, HBO had just launched and most of us had three TV channels. Now everyone has digital cable with movies on demand, four Redbox units within three miles of home, and 70 inch home theater screens. Oh, and an XBox that lets them, not you, be the guitar hero.

Music has become more ubiquitous these days, which is ironically reducing its appeal. Gone are the days where, in order to hear the new Rush song, we would have to wait for the release date, go to the record store, buy the album, bring it home, and put it on the record player in order to hear it. Now, artists are publishing songs virtually as they write them, and most of us can go from the inkling of desire to hear a song to listening to it in seconds, without getting up out of our chairs. Personally I wouldn't go back to the way it used to be; however, I observe that this evolution may be devaluing music in the hearts and minds of consumers. Live local music, by comparison, seems like way too much trouble to bother with.

With a few exceptions, long-tenured local bands no longer become famous national bands. I conclude that playing locally provides little exposure to the industry, who never go to the clubs either.

I've been in bands that have promoted shows with a regimen that would kill an ordinary man, only to see twenty or thirty people show up in a venue that could hold two hundred. People simply don't want to come out and see you play at 10 PM.

I've played in mountain towns far enough from home that the band couldn't reasonably be expected to draw. Once last summer, we did this in Telluride during the film festival - when 5000 arts lovers had flooded this tiny mountain town, and we played two nights for the bar staff while the DJ bar below us had a line out the door. And we don't suck.

I've recently attended shows by highly musical regional touring bands - Garaj Mahal and the Pimps of Joytime for example - with fewer than 20 people in the room.

I set aside a few categories of live local music from this analysis. First, solo piano players in wine bars and upscale restaurants seem not to be affected, probably because their presence is almost unnoticeable if you are more than 20 feet away from them. They demand no audience nor attention and therefore function essentially as a proxy for recorded music.

Second, there are a few cities where live music is an integral part of the culture - Austin and Nashville for instance. Live music may still have more than average support in places like these as well as in college towns where the 18-24 demographic is highly overrepresented.

Marquee touring acts and festivals - destination entertainment events that people plan to attend and buy tickets months ahead of time - seem to be doing well; the evolution I describe seems to apply only to local music.

Your thoughts?

xx

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Guest davetherave

Interesting article, at least its not only the UK that has a "dwindling" live music scene!

This might help things in the near future, though I'm not sure if it applies in Scotland? Scrapping entertainment licenses..

Quote from above article "People simply don't want to come out and see you play at 10 PM."... Perhaps gigs should start earlier, particularly mid week ones when folk have work the next day?

:)

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Frankly, I'm not that bothered if people never go and see pish local bands ever again.

The good ones don't kick the arse out of 'local tourz', choose gigs wisely and generally get a pretty reasonable turnout in my experience. This generation have grown up with Bill and Ted and don't seem to realise that it is a work of fiction. Unfortunately a local battle of the bands will not fill a small arena with hot girls, and it never did.

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Frankly, I'm not that bothered if people never go and see pish local bands ever again.

The good ones don't kick the arse out of 'local tourz', choose gigs wisely and generally get a pretty reasonable turnout in my experience. This generation have grown up with Bill and Ted and don't seem to realise that it is a work of fiction. Unfortunately a local battle of the bands will not fill a small arena with hot girls, and it never did.

Agree with this 100%. When I gigged with Heller State we played every single gig we were offered (mostly last minute stand-ins for cancelled support acts on school-nights in Tunnels). At the time the logic was that an empty gig is still, at worst, a free practice. We worked under the assumption that surely some of the headlining bands would pull in a few punters so if we were to convert one person in the audience into a fan then our following would soon add up. The problem was that so many of the bills were completely full (headliners and all) of bands doing exactly the same as us.

Putting on charity gigs actually reached the point where we'd go out of our way to find a band looking for a 'first gig' or similar because they'd have the guaranteed turnout of friends and family! It can very quickly reach a point where your mates can't be arsed paying a fiver to see you again and a lot of bands' followings disappear overnight because of this. The same thing can happen to any fans you develop - you start appearing on every gig poster they see and they stop giving a shit about making the effort to see you.

Some bands, however, go the opposite way and gig so sparsely that everyone forgets about them or assumes they've disbanded between gigs.

My opinion - and what I'm hoping to try to achieve with my new band - is that the best way to try to find a middle ground is to make the most of online presence. The OP mentions bands putting out tracks virtually as they write them, but that can be a very good thing! Keep adding new songs, demos, artwork and whatever you can to bandtwitfacecloudspace.com and try to keep the people who are interested in what you're doing interested in what you're doing!

xx

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