1. avatar pennydistribution
    Despite the horrendous link-baited title, Jim Carroll makes an interesting example of the recent White Hinterland show in Dublin - If you weren't at WH's Belfast date (Tom McShane opening), you missed quite a show.

    The post has generated quite the discussion over on his blog and thought I'd put the idea to the FastFude Massive:

    From On The Record: [url]http://tinyurl.com/5aleud[/url]

    "This is the future of the music business

    What were you doing last Wednesday night? I know, I know, it’s the kind of question they used to pose on Garda Patrol and still do on Law & Order. Anyway, there was football on TV but there was also a couple of gigs happening in Dublin. Sly & Robbie were in Tripod, Pivot were at Whelan’s and White Hinterland played at Crawdaddy. There were a couple of hundred to see Sly & Robbie, a hundred or so at Pivot and 18 paying punters to see White Hinterland. Lets stick with White Hinterland because there is a lesson here about what the future of this business looks like.

    First, the back-story. White Hinterland is the moniker used by Casey Dienel, a singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon. Some hugely talented musicians help her out, but she’s the only one in the pics so she is White Hinterland for the purposes of this piece. She released the “Phylactery Factory” album earlier this year on the Dead Oceans label and she also released the excellent “Luniculaire EP”, five songs sung in French including covers of songs by Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, and Brigitte Fontaine.

    In September, a couple of Irish tour dates were announced which saw White Hinterland play in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Galway. This was, as far as I can work out, her first Irish tour.

    So anyway, she played in Dublin last week to about 18 paying punters and a couple of freebies. Lets do some back-of-an-envelope gigematics about this. The door take for the night would have been €252 (18 heads at €14 a pop). Dienel has a booking agent so she was probably on a fee for the night which, lets be honest, was probably not covered by what was taken at the door. We’ll say she got €500 for her troubles. The promoter took a bit of a hit on the show but I’m sure it’s not the first or last time that will happen.

    Now, you can look at the fact that White Hinterland pulled 18 punters to a midweek show in Dublin in two ways.

    One: well, what do you expect? She’s an unknown. Her records don’t get played on Irish radio shows and there was no big buzz about the show. There’s a recession on. People ain’t going to small shows because they’re spending all their cash on tickets for AC/DC and Oasis and Kings Of Leon. Hell, there was football on the TV.

    Two: an unknown act pulled 18 paying punters to a Dublin show on a slow, cold, dreary October night. Why did those 18 punters go to the show?

    I’m more interested in the second reason because it tells a great story about the future of this business. We could look at this from the point of view of the promoter and how Recession 2.0 and banks putting on the credit crunch is going to mean a few Irish promoters going out of business, but lets concentrate on the artist for this one. As I keep banging on here, every single new music business model which comes to market is aimed at acts with established audiences. These acts are the ones who have built considerable fan-bases on the back of releasing records on major labels and touring to support these releases. They have been able to do both these things thanks to the largesse and patience of major labels. The majority of established acts owe their financial well-being, pulling power and ability to keep on trucking to a major label who took a punt on them.

    New business model pimps are not prepared to put in the spadework or heavy lifting to build an audience from the ground up because it costs too much, takes too long and the audience remains hugely cynical and suspicious about brands, hence why brands go after established acts. They have large chequebooks and that is why established acts tend to respond well to what they have to say. Established acts know that the record label jig is up and they’re looking around for the next big pay-day because band members have college fees to pay or new houses to decorate or plastic surgery to get done.

    This concentration on acts who’ve already grabbed their audience leaves White Hinterland outside the tent. Because the major label jig is up, she is probably not going to be able to count on the financial muscle of a major label to back her art. Sure, she has a label who will put out her record, but Dead Oceans do not have the wherewithall to push and plug and kick the ass off that record and turn her into the new, I don’t know, Feist. Such an approach wouldn’t suit the music, of course, but the label isn’t in that position so lets discard that one. Like every other act, Dienel has to tour and tour and tour to spread the word and make some dough, which is why she’s playing to 18 people in Dublin on a Wednesday night.

    So far, so depressing, right? Well, not really. At the end of the show, Dienel went to the back of the venue and clocked in for her second shift of the day at the merchandise stand. About 9 or 10 people in all bought a CD or record or t-shirt after the show. Each of them had a chat with her and she signed their purchases. Her merch take for the night was probably around €200, not a bad haul for the night (I’m assuming the venue didn’t take a commission).

    But far more valuable than all those euros was the knowledge which Dienel was probably squirreling away as she chatted to the fans. She was learning how those people found out about her music and what they liked about it. She was turning fans into friends and ambassadors. She was sowing the seeds for her next trip to Ireland. She was starting to turn those 18 punters into 100 punters. It’s something she’s going to have to do at every single damn gig she plays until she’s at a stage where she is playing rooms where some nosey fellow from a daily newspaper can’t do a head-count from where he’s standing.

    That’s the future of this business for every act in it who does not yet have an established audience capable of keeping him/her/them in the style to which they think should be accustomed. They’re going to have to do - and are hopefully already doing - what Dienel is doing. It’s about making those connections, doing the informal data-mining after every show to find out what DJ is playing your record or what blogger is typing about you or who is best at spreading the word about you in that town. That’s the media info dope Dienel has to take from every show. It’s also about making sure those fans who’ve trucked out to see you go home happy. It’s not quite peer to peer - though many fans would like to think it is - but it’s certainly a lot more than business to consumer. That’s the business info dope Dienel has to get from every show. On top of all that, she has to keep writing the songs and making those records. Any act who is not prepared to do all that might as well apply for that job in Spar right now."
    [url][/url]
  2. avatar fastfude
    It's a long and slow process, but perhaps the most effective one at that scale.

    Certainly any time I've been able to chat to the artist at such a low turnout gig, I've always been sufficiently impressed/enamoured by the encounter to buy their merch and make a point of turning up at their next visit.

    This also applies to watching a band play to 18 people with the same conviction and enthusiasm as if it were 300, as My Ruin did the other night. Definitely going to see them again.
  3. avatar POSITIVExYOUTH
    Glad to see that finally the 'music business' is finally taking notes of what has been a consolidated truth in the world of punk and hardcore for at least 30 years.

    It's how things have worked for that kind of 'scene' or underworld since the 1980s really. A band makes big sacrifices to get out a record, makes even bigger sacrifices to play as many gigs as possible hoping to pull people in and with the only assured (and not always) reward of a warm meal and at best a floor where to sleep. That goes on even for years, the band starts with a handful of people knowing them and these people talk to friends, these friends post a blog somewhere and pass on the name and so on untill after a few years the band can pull a pretty decent crowd at most gigs and can manage to sell a not too bad at all amount of records.

    The punk/hardcore scene has ben shunned for this DIY approach to things and been accused of not being able to produce any well known act to the general public, when in fact it has been a successful formula for 30 years.
    And seems that the 'music business' and hordes of musicians have realized this. Still, it will take a long time to adjust the whole 'music business' to this kind of mentality.
  4. avatar luke
    The perfect example of someone doing it well is Duke Special. Dear only knows how many times he went out on the road across Ireland and the UK, then went back six months later to the same venue, but played to double the audience, and so on and so on. It's the best way to do it, and also now with certain internet tools, such as musicglue, there are easy ways to track who is downloading your songs, and where they come from. Then say you can see that 150 people from Leeds downloaded your song, but only 2 people from Swindon did, you can plan your tour more sensibly. I suppose FWW are another good example too now that I think about it.
  5. avatar JTM
    I've started asking people who come to our shows who they are there to see. It gives me a better idea how to distribute the money at the end of the night for one thing.

    It's lucky if those 18 punters all knew who White Hinterland was already. How many were "Dunno who she is, I just walked in off the street" ?

    If this is a paradigm shift then promoters will have to adapt as well.
  6. avatar the dirty weed
    [quote:3f62851a26="JTM"]I've started asking people who come to our shows who they are there to see. It gives me a better idea how to distribute the money at the end of the night for one thing.
    [/quote:3f62851a26]

    Not questioning your methods of running shows but i've never thought this was ideal.

    If the show works on the basis of a door split, it seems reasonable that the split is fair or weighted with consideration to distance travelled by band / amount of members / who brought the backline etc..
    You would hope that promoters are programming bills where the punter will want to see every band.

    I remember that the Spring and Airbrake had a night on a Friday where you *had* to say who you were there to see. Always felt a bit sh*tty for saying "my mate's band" knowing that the other groups on the bill had put as much effort in to playing the gig.
  7. avatar aaronrossi
    It is not ideal to pay the bands based upon how far they have come.

    I suppose if you are promoting a gig ideally you want acts that have a bit of a following - it stands to reason that the more popular you are - the more people you can get to the gig - the more that band should be paid.

    I think realistically you are not going to make much money from gigging until you have some base of followers. I think bands that have travelled far for gigs it is to increase their profile rather than make money.

    If you bring a backline then I suppose you should be compensated but certainly not for distance..
  8. avatar the dirty weed
    [quote:c6535132bb="aaronrossi"]It is not ideal to pay the bands based upon how far they have come.

    I suppose if you are promoting a gig ideally you want acts that have a bit of a following - it stands to reason that the more popular you are - the more people you can get to the gig - the more that band should be paid.

    I think realistically you are not going to make much money from gigging until you have some base of followers. I think bands that have travelled far for gigs it is to increase their profile rather than make money.

    If you bring a backline then I suppose you should be compensated but certainly not for distance..[/quote:c6535132bb]

    why not?
    i agree that bands are not going to make much money from gigging in the early days (most well-established touring bands we've put on just about break even too).
    however, if payment is being dished out on the basis of a door profit split, there is generally no reason for a band to *lose* money from having played a gig, if the promoter considers more factors than which band got the most cheers (or have the most mates ;) )

    i should probably leave it at that but i'll use a hypothetical example and then ending up having a tedious argument anyway...

    4 piece dublin band and 4 piece belfast band play a bar in belfast. there's a 100quid at the end of the night. does it not make some sort of sense to give dublin band £60 and belfast £40, as opposed to 50/50?
  9. avatar exitonline
    The ethic of touring constantly is indeed a valid way to build up a fanbase and probably one of the best ways to do it. But what about those bands who arent signed to any label. Generally, the large majority of "unsigned" acts simply cannot afford to tour. In most cases it costs a band more to tour than they will ever make back. For example when we played england the whole trip cost us near a grand and we made only a fraction of that. We always joke that the sound guy is the only person who makes money out of gigs.

    On the other hand for artists like the artist in question who are signed etc and are getting paid their fees to do the show they can afford to tour. If there is a small crowd gathered Some blame must fall onto the promoter for not doing his job of "promoting".

    We also agree to an extent on the idea of promoters paying bands who bring a crowd as it means in theory that all bands will try their best to promote instead of just showing up to play. However, if you are touring band trying to build a fanbase you may not have a fanbase in that area. So a fair way to do it is to pay all bands. Afterall, it should be the promoters job to help get people to the venue. It wouldnt be the first time we have arrived at the venue to a gig handeled by a "promoter" only to find no indication that there is a gig on that night. Also, splitting money via door entrances for each band is most often rewarding the band who has the most mates.

    Also it costs the bar no money to put on bands because unsigned acts usually are put on during the off nights when business at the bar would run slow (sun-thurs). So its win-win situation for the bar, they get free entertainment, people into the bar via rent-a-mob and they make money through drink sales. I firmly believe that if a bar/venue is willing to put on bands then they should pay the band in question. Afterall the bar normally pays its own soundmen so why not the bands who are in a way employed by the bar that night to provide entertainment. If you are a cover band or DJ you will get paid great money with no real guarantee of crowd or fanbase. But cover bands and DJs are usually put on when the bar is busy anyway.

    People may jump on this reply because im not "it's all about the music, money is a bonus", but at the end of the day most bands split up simply because they cannot afford to carry on. I know bands that are 30 grand in debt and soon they will have to call it a day. So at the end of the day all bands need money to continue to do what they love. But unfortunately, most bands these days will end up having to pay-to-play by hiring out venues, hoping to break even, then at the end of all this you have to pay the soundman regardless if you have made any money or not. Meanwhile, the venue owners are laughing all the way to the bank, getting free entertainment and making money from drinks etc.

    So yes touring is good is you can afford it.
  10. avatar POSITIVExYOUTH
    I still believe that is due to the 'music business' not having shaked off completely some of the worse characteristics of the whole making music thing and not having embraced DIY enough.
    I mean, going back to the punk example, there are bands that have been going for years, have toured to a good degree, have a decent level of output and rarely they have big debts or can't sustain (albeit with some sacrifices) touring for 2/3 weeks at a time and all without the backing of money from any record label at all.
    If punk bands can do it (and have been doing it for the past 30 years) and your average unsigned band can't, surely it means people are not doing things the right way.
  11. avatar JTM
    Lots of good points made. I especially hear this: Gauging numbers on the doors has always been a thing for future reference for me, and never a pure gauge of how I split the door take.


    Long, [u:23b4117244]long[/u:23b4117244] story short, for me, promotion comes down to balancing the needs and ambitions of the bands that you are itching to to show the world, against the requirement of keeping the owners of the venue you get to use happy by drawing in punters. And not losing money while you do it.

    EDIT: Sorry I realise this thread has gone off the original topic; something tells me there'll be a few more posts here to get it back on track.
  12. avatar Recycled Alien
    [quote:53b45f2372="exitonline"]Also it costs the bar no money to put on bands because unsigned acts usually are put on during the off nights when business at the bar would run slow (sun-thurs). So its win-win situation for the bar, they get free entertainment, people into the bar via rent-a-mob and they make money through drink sales. I firmly believe that if a bar/venue is willing to put on bands then they should pay the band in question. Afterall the bar normally pays its own soundmen so why not the bands who are in a way employed by the bar that night to provide entertainment.[/quote:53b45f2372]You're mistaken on a couple of counts here. The soundman is usually paid by the promoter, or by the bands if it's a self-promoted affair.

    The venue needs to pay for bar staff and security staff etc. I've been soundman at a well-known Belfast venue on at least one night that was a [b:53b45f2372]certain[/b:53b45f2372] money loss for the bar, (and indeed for the promoter who had to pay me), because of the very poor attendance.

    A bar manager would have a very difficult job deciding whether a given event would attact a good enough crowd to make him a profit on bar sales. He has to rely on a promoter, who (in theory) will work hard to get the maximum crowd.

    I witnessed a situation last year where a bar manager worked by your logic and gave a well-known promoter £100 per night to pay bands for a mid-week gig. It didn't work. Whether the bands, sure of a few quid, didn't bring their rent-a-crowds; or whether the promoter treated it as a free gig for unknown and unloved bands, I don't know.
  13. avatar exitonline
    [quote:dca1cb3ea3="Recycled Alien"]You're mistaken on a couple of counts here. The soundman is usually paid by the promoter, or by the bands if it's a self-promoted affair.

    The venue needs to pay for bar staff and security staff etc. I've been soundman at a well-known Belfast venue on at least one night that was a [b:dca1cb3ea3]certain[/b:dca1cb3ea3] money loss for the bar, (and indeed for the promoter who had to pay me), because of the very poor attendance.

    A bar manager would have a very difficult job deciding whether a given event would attact a good enough crowd to make him a profit on bar sales. He has to rely on a promoter, who (in theory) will work hard to get the maximum crowd.

    I witnessed a situation last year where a bar manager worked by your logic and gave a well-known promoter £100 per night to pay bands for a mid-week gig. It didn't work. Whether the bands, sure of a few quid, didn't bring their rent-a-crowds; or whether the promoter treated it as a free gig for unknown and unloved bands, I don't know.[/quote:dca1cb3ea3]

    Yeah, I was only speaking from personal experience. Normally when we have to pay a soundman we always bring the cash to do so out of our own pockets just incase. I have also done sound in various venues around Belfast and there have been nights when there was nobody at the gig but I still got paid.

    What I meant when I say it costs the bar no extra cash. Some venues would have the bar open anyway with no extra security apart from the usual bouncers on the door. So they are making money out of bands who are willing to pay to hire out the venue and the bar is also making money out of drinks sales if there is a crowd there. But there may be venues that dont open unless there is a gig, then these venues may run at a loss.

    About the bar you mentioned paying bands. Maybe the bands just went to get the cash and didnt bother promoting, it wouldnt suprise me. But in theory this is the right way to do it. The promoter should have advertised the gig to death and done everything in their power to get asses on seats, but its also the bands responsibilty to do their own promotion.

    But there is also the argument that bands can only bring the rent-a-mob a certain number of times. You can only do the play to your mates thing so many times before you start fooling yourself.
  14. avatar aaronrossi
    [quote="the dirty weed"][quote:830eb7df51="aaronrossi"]

    4 piece dublin band and 4 piece belfast band play a bar in belfast. there's a 100quid at the end of the night. does it not make some sort of sense to give dublin band £60 and belfast £40, as opposed to 50/50?[/quote:830eb7df51]

    If the belfast band brought the backline then they should get the £60. Also I suppose it would depend on whether the promoter asked the belfast band to play or if the band asked to play there..

    I guess what I mean is - if you bring a band to dublin then you should have money there in reserve to cover their costs. Just like you would have to with a soundman. If it is a band that want a gig there and you are taking a punt as a promoter then a simple explaination that they would get a cut of the door but not necessarily enough to cover their petrol down. I would love the chance to play dublin and spliting £30 petrol between the band wouldn't be too bad. I would see this as speculating to accumulate! :)

    I do take the point that you can't take it to the extreme and end up losing a lot of money but until you have some kind of backing then it is a risky business.

    If you want to make money at it then you are better of playing music in a covers band.
  15. avatar JTM
    To get back on track, should bands play 150+ shows a year?
    No, that's too many unless you're established, or are going to be based in North America or prepared to travel across Europe. That's a full year on the road with little or no time for writing new material. Not that you can't write on the road but...

    Tangent: What have any bands here who have toured extensively / recently found out? Did playing all these gigs get you more fans, and more devoted fans at that?
  16. avatar Rocky
    Having played more than 150 shows a year for going on four years now,
    I found it to be great for setting down foundations in different cities.

    Without good label/press/radio/promoter support
    and financial backing from publishing/management/some rich people playing 150 shows a year is a struggle and the amount of interest you'll achieve will in my experience, level out relatively quickly.

    I wish it was possible to tour and build a crowd without needing all the other people around you, indeed i argued it was possible for a very long time.
    Look at the bands locally who are touring internationally and playing to hundreds/thousands of people.
    Do they have management/labels/publishing? yes.

    The truth is, the amount of people who listen to the music they are given (via magazines/tv/internet/radio) far outweigh the amount of people who seek it out for themselves.

    That's why when you go to see bands like Headlights,
    who played in Belfast on Sunday, there will be 30 people there and if you go round the corner to the Opera House there will be however many thousand people watching Elbow.

    It's not a bad thing,but when it reaches the point that they can no longer continue to tour because they need to stay home & work to pay rent then it's a sad thing.


    The more shows you play, the better you'll be,
    the more people will see you/like you.
    But I'd recommend being able to back it up with a recording that does you justice, because that's the way most bands still get interest from labels/management/publishing.
    It's also something to give to those few people who do come to see you to, to play to their friends who might come see you next time....

    playing live is only one part of it.
    It can be the most enjoyable, the most expensive and the most difficult part.
    Being in a band and trying to get your music into a lot of peoples lives is a really interesting balancing act.

    For me it's about
    writing songs, recording albums, touring, interacting with people who like your music & being a part of their lives.

    I do not believe that purely by playing 150 shows a year that i will achieve all the things i want to with my music.
    If your goals are traveling and getting to perform regardless of how many people see you and how many times a week you eat/wash - then maybe it makes perfect sense.
  17. avatar Tomsthumb
    How many hours a week does the average guy/gal work?
    5-6 days
    45-60 hours a week.

    Break it down.

    150 gigs’s a year is about the same.
    Good.
    It’s their job unless it’s their hobby.


    It seems like a lot of hours but if there’s the proper management (local and National, ECT) the work load is taken of the bands, so…. Less stress,
    Bands just show up and play while the others sort the rest out (you all know all this).
    What’s also interesting is I’ve never meat a manager that didn’t or doesn’t play.

    Plus there are more people on the pay role while more work can be done with less effort.

    The only problem I see is if the musicians perform in the same place’s all the time.
    If you’re going play that many gig’s spread it around in other cities, or “LOW-KEY” yourselves if you can’t.
    No1 wants to hear the same song on repeat (If you know what I mean)
    (Well, unless you’re Rab Maculick*, Damm I love his blues)

    I’d rather a performer made their money gigging than selling Formats.
    Gets a lot more respect and rightly so.
    Performers still need to sell stuff, which is a good thing also.
    Kids need fayed, Bills need payied.

    Bedsides
    Out of them 150 gig’s there would be a good few cancelled or another band would cover for them.



    (Please, no wise guy going on about my grammar, if you understood the dam thing then why bust my b***s)