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  • DJs vs. Live Bands and Beating a dead horse

    So,

    Saturday was opening day of the LSU football season, which may not mean that much to most of the country, but down here, LSU football is religion.  We watched the game at my house with a group of friends then went downtown afterwards.  Our drummer was sitting in for an AMAZING band.  Lots of funk and blues.  Incredible musicianship.  I wanted to catch a half a set or so, so I went to see them while the rest of the group went to a danceclub a block down the street.

     

    Scene 1: Live Band

    First they are playing a club that usually gets a really nice crowd.  We play there regularly. Again, AMAZING musicianship.  Not a weak member of the band.  Stuff any of us would listen to and be amazed.  But...  First, it wasn't the most attractive collection of people.  They were wearing flip flops and shorts or jeans.  Basically looked like the walked off the street onto stage.  No show at all.  They just stood there and talked to each other between songs.  No lights.  No special effects.  Felt like we could have been hanging in someone's garage listening to them.  There were, at most, 20 people in the club.  Bartenders are bored, so I bs'd with them for a while (we play there regularly so I know them all)

    Now I expected downtown to be dead, so I really didn't pay this any mind.  Opening night of football season, and the game is in Dallas (so a boatload of people traveled there) AND it's labor day weekend (so a boatload of people are at the beach).  So I just chalked it up to the wrong night to be playing.  After 30 minutes or so I made my way to the nightclub.

    Scene 2: Nightclub

    Place is PACKED.  Wall to wall people.  DJ is rocking, never a break in the music.  Room has AMAZING lights lighting the dancefloor, plus all kinds of cool special effects.  And, most importantly to the club owner, the bartenders are running like crazy trying to fill all the drink orders.  No time to so much as say hi.

    To me what I witnessed as very little to do with DJ vs. Live Band.  It's all the other stuff that drove people away from venue 1 and kept them at venue 2.  YMMV

    ****************

    Jason
    My band: http://www.facebook.com/thetrickydickies

    "Do or do not. There is no try" - Yoda

  • #2
    I get where you are headed , but you also have the fact that the people in that hoppin bar grew up on DJs. That's what they like. Down here they put up the good band first because the people that dig live music tend to be older. The kids wanna see nelly / I get the cleanin up your act bit , but I doubt the way those guys were dressed was their major problem.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">&quot;you mess with him and you mess with the whole trailer park&quot;</div><br>

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    • guido61
      guido61 commented
      Editing a comment

      TIMKEYS wrote:
      I get where you are headed , but you also have the fact that the people in that hoppin bar grew up on DJs. That's what they like. Down here they put up the good band first because the people that dig live music tend to be older. The kids wanna see nelly / I get the cleanin up your act bit , but I doubt the way those guys were dressed was their major problem.

      It's all part of the deal and all small pieces that add up to the overall product.

      If all the DJ did was just play the latest Top 40 hits, he'd just be a jukebox in the corner and nobody would be in that place either.   The reason the DJ packs the place is because--in addition to playing great songs--he sequences them perfectly, adds clever mixing, plays through a great sound system, has great lighting, etc.

      It's really easy (and entirely too common) for bands to say "this or that isn't going to be the reason people like us or not."   And, if we're talking just about one thing all by itself, that is likely true.   But add up a bunch of small this or thats and you're starting to talk real money.

       


    • BlueStrat
      BlueStrat commented
      Editing a comment

      TIMKEYS wrote:
      I get where you are headed , but you also have the fact that the people in that hoppin bar grew up on DJs. That's what they like. Down here they put up the good band first because the people that dig live music tend to be older. The kids wanna see nelly / I get the cleanin up your act bit , but I doubt the way those guys were dressed was their major problem.

      I agree, but it can be a symptom of a problem. I went to see some friends play at one of the nicest restaurants in town, a place I regularly play every Sunday as a solo and every other month with as trio. It has a big stage, and tables go right up to it. And there these guys are, wearing tank tops, ball caps, shorts (the singer literally has cut off jeans with threads hanging down his legs) and flip flops. One of the guys had big scabs on his shins. It wasn't that hot; the room is in the basement and there are air conditioning vents behind the stage. This is a really nice place, and while they were breaking, I talked to the drummer who used to play with me. I said "hey, way to go all out with the wardrobe!" and he said "I saw Neil Young last year and his band dressed like this. It's not a big deal." And I almost said "yeah, because your band in a nice restaurant is exactly like Neil Young's band and an outdoor concert." But I didn't. The fact is, these guys just don't care. They don't get that it's a business, that the band is part of the restaurant experience for the patrons, that when anyone mentions their band, the image the patron will recall (if he remebers them at all)  are the guys who looked like they just got off the boat and headed for the gig.  

       

      Dressing like this in a beach gig, or certain tavern or bar gigs is fine. A fine dining restaurant, not so much. A smart band will know the difference. We'll see if they get booked back.   


    • TrickyBoy
      TrickyBoy commented
      Editing a comment

      TIMKEYS wrote:
      I get where you are headed , but you also have the fact that the people in that hoppin bar grew up on DJs. That's what they like. Down here they put up the good band first because the people that dig live music tend to be older. The kids wanna see nelly / I get the cleanin up your act bit , but I doubt the way those guys were dressed was their major problem.

      I don't know if I agree with this.  I mean, no one really hears a DJ or a band until they are able to get into clubs, so the average 23 year old only has a couple of years of experience with any of it.  What I think that generation grew up on is Multi-Media.  Everything is headed that way.  Used to be you just went to a baseball game.  Now the game is only a small part of the experience.  It's like a damn carnival.

      I find that young people like a live music show.  But if I'm out to party, I want a full out party, not just some music.


  • #3
    irst, it wasn't the most attractive collection of people. They were wearing flip flops and shorts or jeans. Basically looked like the walked off the street onto stage. No show at all. They just stood there and talked to each other between songs. No lights. No special effects. Felt like we could have been hanging in someone's garage listening to them. There were, at most, 20 people in the club. Bartenders are bored, so I bs'd with them for a while (we play there regularly so I know them all)
    --------------------------------

    It sounds like the band was half-ass'ing it and expecting it to be hopping, or maybe they weren't. When I grew up, live music was a show. The works, music, lights, fog etc.

    Maybe that's why I still strive for full production. Younger live original bands do well in my area. I usually only provide 2 front lights. But their energy and being original helps. It also helps that the kids are into live music.
    NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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    • #4

      I'm not following.  What are you saying drew more people to the second venue?  The music the DJ was playing, his attire (you didn't mention it), the venue's "hip factor", the special effects?  Scene one = live band, while scene two = nightclub.  One is a band, while a nightclub is a venue.   Did the nightclub provide the special effects and sound system, while the band had to bring their own?

      There are a ton of variables here, right?

      http://www.reverbnation.com/thedubiouscapture<br>

      Comment


      • guido61
        guido61 commented
        Editing a comment

        Yer Blues wrote:

        I'm not following.  What are you saying drew more people to the second venue?  The music the DJ was playing, his attire (you didn't mention it), the venue's "hip factor", the special effects?  Scene one = live band, while scene two = nightclub.  One is a band, while a nightclub is a venue.   Did the nightclub provide the special effects and sound system, while the band had to bring their own?

        There are a ton of variables here, right?


        He said his band plays there to good crowds.   This band was not drawing in the crowd on the street the way his band, or the DJ down the street was doing.

        So no, it can't be about the venue.  And he said the musicianship was great, so it can't be that.   That leaves the fact that they had no lights, no stage show, dressed poorly, etc.   Who provided the lights and sound is irrelevant. 

        That's great if a venue has its own killer lights and sound.  What band doesn't love that?   But any band that wants to do this seriously needs to have their own gear when the venues don't.   What?  The venue should have provided the band with decent clothes to wear too?


      • TrickyBoy
        TrickyBoy commented
        Editing a comment

        Yer Blues wrote:

        I'm not following.  What are you saying drew more people to the second venue?  The music the DJ was playing, his attire (you didn't mention it), the venue's "hip factor", the special effects?  Scene one = live band, while scene two = nightclub.  One is a band, while a nightclub is a venue.   Did the nightclub provide the special effects and sound system, while the band had to bring their own?

        There are a ton of variables here, right?


        I bring our lighting truss to every show.  It's nothing special.  Three color strips, a couple effects lights and our banner.  But it makes all the difference.  

        And yes, the sound system is provided by the club in this case.


    • #5
      My chilli rellenos are awesome
      __________
      Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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      • #6
        As bands we put on a show, use all your kit including visual

        Comment


        • #7
          He said they play "lots of funk and blues". Which could mean a lot of things. But I would certainly think their song list probably goes into the pile of things they don't really get. Along with clothes, lights, too much time between songs, etc.
          _________________________________________________
          band websites:
          http://www.JumpStartYourParty.com
          https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
          https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartYourParty
          http://www.weddingwire.com/biz/jumps...587fe5f12.html

          Comment


          • New Trail
            New Trail commented
            Editing a comment

            guido61 wrote:
            He said they play "lots of funk and blues". Which could mean a lot of things.....

            Oops, I missed that.  Well, funk could be danceable, unless it's old 70's EWF, or stuff that parents would like, but 'the kids' wouldn't be into.......but blues is so over in bars.  If they are a funk band they could do songs like "Treasure" and "Blurred Lines" if they have any interest in trying to be successful with the typically younger audience that goes to bars and clubs.  Or, they're just the wrong band for THAT bar and THAT crowd!


        • #8
          MartinC wrote:

          guido61 wrote:


           




          Once again, you way miss the point.   No, these guys probably aren't going to "steal" any gigs from the bands who put their presentation above not wanting to haul around gear--at least not in the long term-- but, at least in this case, they already WERE working a venue where a band who DOES care regularly works.  


          Whether such a band has any big negative effect on the market before the market weeds them out---who knows.   But the point of this thread is that their dismal performance at this usually-hopping venue shows just how much they dont get it.  


          So no, I don't see how it's "all good" for anyone.   Doesn't seem good for the clubowner.  Or the live music scene in that city.   I don't even see how it's good for that band, unless their definition of "good" is turning away crowds at usually hopping venues. 


          But hey.  At least they saved their backs and still collected at least one paycheck, right?




          Your making a lot of assumptions. Tricky has a great band-solid players playing great music and an attractive front person who sings well. The other guys maybe don't even want that type of act. For all we know it was a throw together gig. What's wrong with a bunch of good players throwing together a few sets and doing a gig? Maybe they aren't going to break into the wedding market, or be a top draw at a big club, maybe they aren't trying to do that, or maybe they already do that in other bands.


          I have zero sympathy for the owner-he knew what he was buying, or perhaps he thought this group would draw more.  He could hire tricky more often, or other bands more like his, but for whatever reason, he hired the band in question.


          I don't consider good musicians playing well a dismal performance no matter how few people are there. Or are you talking about the performance at the cash register?


          There are so many great musicians, famous, not so famous, and completely unknown, who are fat, or unattractive,  wardrobe challenged, who just happen to kick ass on their axes. They don't care about top 40 set lists. They want to play what they want to play.  


          I've been on both sides of the high dollar dressed to the nines high paying corporate/wedding gig and the 50.00 bar gig. There are good and bad in both IMO. To suggest that they "don't get it" ...........maybe they don't and maybe they do. I've never seen a top 40 wedding band go on to do concerts or open for majors, but I have seen 50.00 dollar a man bar bands do it.  A friend has a local show band and he's doing the top 40 corporate, high end club scene. That's all he's ever going to do with that band. Seems a bit limiting to me.


           



           


          ^^^ I love it ^^^

          __________
          Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

          Comment


          • #9
            Opinions are like buttholes. Bottom line, do you or have you made a good living at this game? If so you know what you're talking about, if not you're blowing snot Theres a bunch of ways to skin this cat, that's for sure!

            Comment


            • guido61
              guido61 commented
              Editing a comment

              sventvkg wrote:
              Opinions are like buttholes. Bottom line, do you or have you made a good living at this game? If so you know what you're talking about, if not you're blowing snot Theres a bunch of ways to skin this cat, that's for sure!


            • JailTime
              JailTime commented
              Editing a comment

              sventvkg wrote:
              Opinions are like buttholes. Bottom line, do you or have you made a good living at this game? If so you know what you're talking about, if not you're blowing snot Theres a bunch of ways to skin this cat, that's for sure!

              I disagree - I have more opinions than buttholes.


          • #10
            Around here kids like their dance music, they also like live bands. Original bands, kids their own age. I provide sound, and the manager asks when she can book my band. I tell her #1: we cost too much, and #2: 18 - 25 year olds aren't going to want to watch a band full of 40+ year olds playing covers.

            Like I said, they DO like live music!

            http://youtu.be/8uuD-qTttXA

            http://youtu.be/MVguQTagB8I

            http://youtu.be/6DdbvbyuO_0

            http://youtu.be/bXNqus2JDY8

            http://youtu.be/EWqE5c-gt2I

            http://youtu.be/GQwkKTeob94

            http://youtu.be/Z_grgG86aso

            http://youtu.be/_AOyP4wiwFs

            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

            Comment


            • thewthrman
              thewthrman commented
              Editing a comment

              StratGuy22 wrote:
              Around here kids like their dance music, they also like live bands. Original bands, kids their own age. I provide sound, and the manager asks when she can book my band. I tell her #1: we cost too much, and #2: 18 - 25 year olds aren't going to want to watch a band full of 40+ year olds playing covers.




              That is true, I think.  But there is this other slice of the pie graph.  I always shoot for that 30 or 40-something divorced woman demographic.  They might not be great in numbers, but they don't buy well liquor and draft beer.  They buy expensive drinks.  Wine and expensive vodka.  There are certainly some clubs that have that kind of crowd and I am happy to play there.  They are also far more likely to venture out anyway.  I can't entice the 20 somethings anymore.  I have no connection or appeal to them.


          • #11
            That is true, I think. But there is this other slice of the pie graph. I always shoot for that 30 or 40-something divorced woman demographic. They might not be great in numbers, but they don't buy well liquor and draft beer. They buy expensive drinks. Wine and expensive vodka. There are certainly some clubs that have that kind of crowd and I am happy to play there. They are also far more likely to venture out anyway. I can't entice the 20 somethings anymore. I have no connection or appeal to them.
            -------------------------------------------------------

            That's our market. If there was a venue that people like that went to, we would do great there. The private party/corporate/wedding market is FULL of those people. I'd definitely say our crowd is 35+ and we do really well.

            Plus they have lots of money.

            NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

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            • wheresgrant3
              wheresgrant3 commented
              Editing a comment

              I can't say we haven't lost a room to a DJ... we've had rooms convert from live band to DJ faster than you can snap your fingers... but that is a management decision based purely on the club. In my area bands are expensive... there are logistics involved and rarely a guaranteed return depending on draw. DJ's of course are much cheaper but they also come with their own headaches: The crowd they draw tends to be younger, more impulsive. There's a certain element that comes with DJ and house music that clubs never escape. It starts with drugs and violence eventually follows. More security, more police involvement and more scrutiny. I usually tell club owners who abandon live music in favor of a DJ... "good luck. I predict within a year you will be closed". I just witnessed on FB bands and patrons bemoaning the closure of a popular nightspot that used to host band and replaced them with DJ's. Just last month there was a fatal stabbing in the club and now of course the owners are brought up on numerous violations. 

               

               

              Now we made the decision a few years ago that we would not allow DJ's to get in the way with our booking. So we decided to combine the option for club owners as a package. For really big shows we bring in a DJ to spin between sets on stage. He loves it... he's playing to a HUGE audience that is already amp'd. And we get to say to the club owner... no reason for the consideration, we bring the best of both worlds. Again.. no reason to conceed. Play to your strengths and whenever posible make strategic alliances! 

               

               


            • guido61
              guido61 commented
              Editing a comment

              StratGuy22 wrote:
              That is true, I think. But there is this other slice of the pie graph. I always shoot for that 30 or 40-something divorced woman demographic. They might not be great in numbers, but they don't buy well liquor and draft beer. They buy expensive drinks. Wine and expensive vodka. There are certainly some clubs that have that kind of crowd and I am happy to play there. They are also far more likely to venture out anyway. I can't entice the 20 somethings anymore. I have no connection or appeal to them.
              -------------------------------------------------------

              That's our market. If there was a venue that people like that went to, we would do great there. The private party/corporate/wedding market is FULL of those people. I'd definitely say our crowd is 35+ and we do really well.

              Plus they have lots of money.


              All true.  But you're STILL competing with DJs for that market.    Maybe even moreso than the bar bands where the venue is usually either a DJ or a live music venue.   For private events, it's very often a choice for the client and if you're trying to convince them they should spend twice as much or more for live music, you better give them a good reason to do so.

               


          • #12

            My most recent experience with this topic is at a bar here that had a live band from 8 to 10:45, then a DJ from 11 to close.

            My band is a good band the musicianship is there, we know the songs we play, it has lights, we dress nicely, we don't just stand there and look bored while playing and we very rarely if ever have a break between songs. Our setlist isn't your typical classic rock set for the area. To be honest it flirts with being a pop rock set then a classic rock set. Our crowd totalled about 20 to 30 people that were dancing and partying it up!


            It was real dis-heartening to look out side while finishing up the last set only to see the massive line of 20 somethings waiting to get into the club to listen to the DJ... They weren't even interested in coming inside to beat the crowd to the bar to get a first drink. But once we quit and the DJ started his game, they started walking in and dancing. We were broke down within 45 minutes. By the time we finished, the club was packed and some of the **** I saw going on made yours truly blush... And believe me in my 45 years of travelling the world, I have seen some freaky ****

             

            This last weekend was the last weekend for bands at the club, they are going full DJ now.

             

            The second time this happened, reality more or less set in. The days of the live music scene are numbered. The kids just don't respond. It's getting so bad a country bar down town opened up about 6 months ago... They have yet to book a live band. From what I hear, 9 to 11 is a DJ playing country then a quick change over to the hip hop you would expect out of a DJ.

             

             

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            • #13
              True enough. I have interest for my band, for a Christmas party 2 hours away. I'm just hoping I don't come in with two high of a price.

              We need to include travel for 3 vehicles minimum and 3 to 5 hotel rooms. There's 5 of us, one female. So the minimum is 3. Girl by herself and we can pair up for the other 2 rooms.

              We have our NYE price which is less than double our normal price but still works out good for us. We've booked 2 Christmas parties at this rate as well. I'm bit sure if that will come across too high or not.

              It's always nerve racking when you tell them your price and hit send....
              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

              Comment


              • wesg
                wesg commented
                Editing a comment
                Three vehicles? If it's cargo space you lack, a $20/day U-Haul trailer might cut costs..Provided you already have a van or something rigged for towing.

              • guido61
                guido61 commented
                Editing a comment

                StratGuy22 wrote:
                True enough. I have interest for my band, for a Christmas party 2 hours away. I'm just hoping I don't come in with two high of a price.

                We need to include travel for 3 vehicles minimum and 3 to 5 hotel rooms. There's 5 of us, one female. So the minimum is 3. Girl by herself and we can pair up for the other 2 rooms.

                We have our NYE price which is less than double our normal price but still works out good for us. We've booked 2 Christmas parties at this rate as well. I'm bit sure if that will come across too high or not.

                It's always nerve racking when you tell them your price and hit send....

                Yes, it is.  But at some point you just have to set the price that's good for you and live with it.   I know we could probably work twice as much if we were willing to play for half the price, but what would be the point in the long run?  

                About the best you can do is try to word the bid in such a way as to indicate you'd be willing to be flexible if the bid is too high.   The way we word it is to give the impression that we have smaller entertainment "packages" available for smaller budgets.  We really don't, but at least it gives us the opportunity to get them on the phone where we can negotiate with them and not lose the gig over what might be just a few hundred dollars.  

                On a related note, I'm going to allow myself a gloating moment because this just came in over Gigmasters for a gig we did last Saturday.   I can't help but think that reviews like this only increase our ability to get the highest possible fees for these events:

                 "From start of the planning process to the end of the show, jumpstart was amazing! Made our wedding the best party ever. A little more expensive than some of our other options, but worth every penny and then some!"


            • #14
              I have my rig, which brings all our PA and my guitar setup:

              http://i1187.photobucket.com/albums/z398/robare99/FD78F7D3-9033-41A1-A0D5-30FAFFE74918-27481-00001225FA255CA0_zps8ef34cff.jpg

              http://i1187.photobucket.com/albums/z398/robare99/2BEE3DF3-A1F0-4B18-A9F0-6CDA3A49AA45-2809-000001A63D48A914.jpg

              http://i1187.photobucket.com/albums/z398/robare99/FA94A6AE-5F97-417B-83B2-4AC1A222D6A3-2809-000001A644345079.jpg

              Light rig in action:
              http://youtu.be/F2G_Bv8O7xM

              So I can probably bring our keyboard player.. The drums & bass rig can travel together, along with their respective owners. Then our singer who lives in another city needs to travel on his own.

              He's 3 hours away, so this gig is almost in the middle. It's 2 hours away from us and about an hour from him, towards us. If I had a canopy we could load my truck up as well and all 4 of us ride together. But I'm not real crazy about having a canopy. I have a roll top which will let me throw my guitar rig in the box of my truck.
              NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

              Comment


              • #15
                That's awesome!! I'm a little surprised at getting our NYE rate for Christmas parties. The price I quoted the out of town gig is $300 less. But still pretty good considering travel etc. I hope they go for it, it could be a good inroads to playing private parties there!
                NO SIGNATURE FOR YOU!!

                Comment


                • guido61
                  guido61 commented
                  Editing a comment

                  StratGuy22 wrote:
                  That's awesome!! I'm a little surprised at getting our NYE rate for Christmas parties.

                  Unlike in the club scene, where NYE generally pays 2-3 times the usual rate, I don't find that what we can get for NYE is that much more than for other private events.  

                   



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