Saturday, February 2, 2013

From a River of Nickels to a Torrent of Micropennies...

At this point, these guys have as good a chance as anybody. 

So yesterday consisted of the same bullshit I've gotten accustomed to during my three years in Theme Park Mistress. We were supposed to arrive at the Mad Frog at 4:30 to tally up ticket sales, but of course when I got there, the doors were locked. When I got back to my car, I'd received a ticket for illegally parking. When I fought through the heavy traffic and returned to my house, I immediately started loading up my gear, since loadout was at 5:30. The venue was full of perhaps twenty people, mostly the other bands competing in  the so-called battle. Gorilla music, whatever the fuck that is, was holding the competition and supposedly had a laundry-list of prizes, including 500 bucks, studio time, and placement on a tour, but I believe you had to win a couple of these contests to get anything. The rep was probably twenty years old, and at my grand old age of twenty-seven, I could only laugh. We talked to him later and found out this was a part-time gig for him and that he was a student at Miami University. We ended up selling the least amount of tickets, which awarded us a 6:30 time-slot, completely fucking up any chance we had of getting somebody not affiliated with a band seeing us. So we went on and played a bad set to the twenty or so people in the bar, and afterwards, we were all cranky and sentiments were expressed, and it became plain that playing out wasn't much fun anymore. 

Now Nate, you ask, why hath the fun vanished from thine enterprise?

Here comes the numbered list:

1. The shittiest people in the world run every music venue. This has been my experience without exception. These people are never reliable. They expect the band to do all of the promotion, as well as bring at least fifty people into their shitty bar. They won't book you unless you have a steady following. (I haven't encountered a band around here that does.) You won't get paid. Most of the time, you won't even get a free drink. The sound guy, if there is one, is always a complete asshole. (With the exception of last night at the Mad Frog, that guy was nice.) Sometimes, they'll want you to sell tickets (The Thompson House) and give them all of the cash. We've been locked out of a bar, screwed out of a share of the cover charge, and made to wait thirty minutes for twenty-five bucks while a clearly under-aged bartender serves drunk college girls while taking drink after drink himself. I swear to Jesus, I want to beat the living hell out of every music venue owner in Cincinnati. And I'm a pretty laid-back guy. 

2. Nobody goes out to see music anymore. There's not a packed venue anywhere around here. The Mad Frog is right across the street from the University of Cincinnati, and I swear there wasn't a single walk-in customer the entire two-hours I was in there. When people go out, they go downtown to discos with DJs and flashing lights and shit on the stereo loud enough to make you go deaf. They go out to get laid. The demand for any type of rock 'n' roll music has vanished. 

3. Being in a band costs you a lot of money and time. Sometimes you spend fifty bucks buying tickets for people just to get them to come out. You have to buy guitar strings and microphones and cables. Gas money is spent driving to practice and venues. You put in the time and effort to try to get better. 

4. The inevitable sense of stagnation. This comes after you realize no progress has been made. Sure, your songs are better than they were three years ago, and the band plays together well. But you've been running in  a circle that has no visible end in sight. You've spent three years on the same course without receiving any fruit for your labors. You get the sense that everyone is tired of the idea of being in a band. When you have a show, you start to dread it. 

For those who try to make a career out of playing music, I imagine it's even worse. This article states as much. I can't remember the last time I spent money on an album, physical or digital. There are just too many things competing for one's time. 

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