What is the State of Local Live Music?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Jarrett, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Jarrett

    Jarrett Member

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    I read on another forum that many believe that local live music is dead or at the very least dying. They stated in comparison to 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, etc. that the function of live music is greatly reduced or non existent.

    In my area, I feel like things have reduced and adjusted. There are gigs out there, but not like it used to be. Original bands are essentially playing for free. Lots of venues are doing open mic/fools on stools for free/tips avenue. Bar/Cover bands are playing all night for $300-$500 a night. A-List bands/Wedding bands are playing a tight, competitive market for $1000-$1500 a show. DJs and Karaoke seem to draw more patrons on average than bands for the most part and many venues are dropping bands in exchange for these.

    What do you think the state of local live music is in your area?
     
  2. macula56

    macula56 Member

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    in my neck of the woods it's like LA was in the 80's and Austin was in the 90's. gigs are still available but the money has steadily declined in recent years. bars around here hire the cheapest bands that they can get regardless of how they sound. up until a few years ago they were at least trying to get the best bands that they could get. now it's just down to spending as little as possible. and karaoke runs rampant. i'm taking a break from playing for the first time in 15 years and it's quite pleasant not dealing with all the bs involved. fortunately my house payment doesn't depend on it anymore so when i play it's still fun. it's definitely different than the 70's and so on but that is to be expected given the economy. it could be way worse.
     
  3. mtmartin71

    mtmartin71 Silver Supporting Member

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    OP, your assessment of bar scene is similar to what I'm seeing in Denver. That's mostly where my band has been playing and we get paid $400-500 with an agent taking a small cut. We play maybe twice per month though. Some private gigs and festivals here and there. For us, this frequency is perfect so I'm not wanting for more gigs per se but if I made my living from it, that'd be a different story. I don't have a reference to the old days. I started gigging in my 30s here in Denver and have no other frame of reference. We're playing more than we ever played but I have no reference point as to whether it was better 10 years ago because our band leader in my last venture wasn't as good at getting new bookings.
     
  4. fisticuffs

    fisticuffs Member

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    Most of the clubs I played 4-5 years ago have closed. We get better paying/attended gigs in small communities around the sate than in Madison proper. There's still a summer's worth of good outdoor gigs though.
     
  5. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    economy in the crapper
    smoking ban
    stiffer drink and drive punishment

    Most of the places-with-live-bands I used to frequent are gone
     
  6. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    I play in originals bands, and I can't recall ever being offered a guarantee for in-town gigs. My experience is that you typically play on three band bills and split the door roughly equally. Door is usually $5-$7, and on a weekend we'll take home $150-200. There's a half-dozen or so suitable venues in our metro area (Seattle), and we play once or twice a month. None of this has changed where I've been for the last twenty years or so, except that the door used to be $3-$5 with the take being adjusted downwards accordingly.

    For solo coffeehouse gigs, there used to be a handful of places around here that would pay a small guarantee. All of those are gone and most don't have any music these days. Also, it used to be common for someone to ask me if I had CD's for sale after the gig. These days, only once in a blue moon. And I see merch tables from other bands on the bill, but I don't much in the way of CD/t-shirt sales going on.

    I've never been in an originals band that made playing out of town worthwhile. I can't recall any place that I played at switching to a DJ or karaoke-based model. Places may close and someone else opens there with a different format, but I've never seen one of "my" places switch horses mid-stream.
     
  7. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    DC seems to be doing fine. Local band Paperhaus, for example, has played at least two sold out shows here, albeit as an opening act to other bands. They were part of an all-local 4-band lineup at The Black Cat last Friday night that sold out.

    Socket Records (a local label) has an annual showcase at the Black Cat that usually does well in attendance. Last Saturday night's showcase had pretty much the same level of attendance as the previous night.

    Whenever local band Bluebrain does something here, like their Eno/Case influenced "boombox walk" at the US Botanical Garden, hundreds of people show up.

    The first and 2nd barbeque parties at Red Door/Gold Leaf Studios were both packed. The first was more "indie-rock" ish as far as band lineup and the 2nd was more blues-oriented (as played by young people), but it didn't matter - it was Gold Leaf Studios...

    The final DC Jazz Loft event at the Red Door a couple of weeks ago was ridiculously packed.

    What this all seemed to tell me was:

    1. Effective advertising (word of mouth, Facebook posts, publication on Washington Post/City Paper/Washington Times/whatever)
    2. Timing (schedule your event on a good night, not a Tuesday night!)

    Combine #1 and #2 plus a great work ethic and you get a killer turnout/sold out show. For example, those guys in Paperhaus work their tails off to promote and network. They don't put much time into complaining about the music scene - they put a lot more time into doing something about it instead.
     
  8. taez555

    taez555 Member

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    For most people music is entertainment. Yes people still want the live interaction with their favorite artists but at the end day... what's the point of paying to see live music if you can just watch the band on Youtube for free?
     
  9. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I'll pay to see the band live if they do something unique for that show. That's where Mono disappointed me - they played exactly the same set in Baltimore and DC on consecutive nights. The only thing that changed was the bassist's dress.

    There's also the social aspect of going out to see shows that appeals to people - the hanging out before, during and after the show.
     
  10. Hwoltage

    Hwoltage Member

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    What is the current state of the Corvallis, Oregon live music scene?

    [​IMG]

    :D
     
  11. speakerjones

    speakerjones Member

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    Around here, it seems that cover bands are in competition for an ever decreasing amount of gigs due to bars closing, and DJ's/VJ's/Karaoke taking over the sports bar/meat market scene. More hack basement cover bands playing for cheap, edging out some of the more talented cover bands.

    The original music scene seems to be on the upswing however, with some great acts appearing, and some new venues popping up, or old ones becoming revitalized. Some local festivals are featuring a broad range of artists. There seems to be a sense of comraderie between a lot of the bands too, sharing gigs, sitting in with each other, etc., which I haven't really seen here for years. Of course there's not a lot of money being made, but there is opportunity. Some of the more successful original acts are packing venues and making as much or more than the good cover bands.
     
  12. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    That would only bother me if I was in the habit of seeing more than one show on a tour, let alone consecutive nights.
     
  13. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    That's the only time it bothered me.

    Other bands changed up their sets at least, even if they weren't the improvising type.
     
  14. DarrenTD

    DarrenTD Member

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    Ditto in my area.
     
  15. Rockledge

    Rockledge Member

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    Rock era music and much of the music being done during the rock era was just great for clubs. Music since the early 80s is really just not live music material most of the time.
    So now that the rock generation is either old or dead, obviously the live music scene has backed off considerably.
    But I don't think it is in bad shape. It surely isn't what it was then, but that doesn't mean it is bad now.

    I think it probably peaked toward the end of rock, during the late 70s and early 80s.
    Live big band stuff in town gazebos, accordian players in nursing homes ( and now of course, rock bands in nursing homes), Irish bands, and a host of other styles and markets seem to do well, guys I know that are active in those areas of music seem to be happy.
     
  16. GtrWiz

    GtrWiz Member

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    I overheard a bar owner tell my friend "I just opened and I'm relying on bands to bring people in." to which my friend replied, "Well if you really don't have anything to offer, why did you open a bar in the first place?".
     

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