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Austin is pretty good... the pay sucks, and it's hard to build a buzz and draw a good crowd, 'cause there's so much competition, but it's friendly competition, and the fact that *I* can go see great music so often outweighs the fact that it's sometimes hard for my band to draw bigger crowds and really progress.
mUk: an insignificant or contemptible person
"If you quote yourself in your sig, your a dummy" - guitarmook
Well, I don't play clubs w/ my trio (they don't pay enough, frankly), but I sub on lead or bass w/ several other bands and essentially in the FW/D area, you've got your C&W bars where everybody is expected to sound like the flavor-of-the-month and blues bars where everyone wants to be Stevie Ray Vaughn so bad that they just can't stand it!
Very few straight-ahead rock clubs anymore, even less jazz clubs...but Karaoke still reigns supreme!
Oh, and hip-hop/rap is still doing as well as can be expected.
Northern Michigan's music scene is limping along. Enough dedicated live music venues to keep a variety of bands working, but lots of competition between bnds for those venues. Lots of places turning to DJ / karaoke because the cost is less.
"Cherri is our resident mom/ surrogate wife/ diplomat/ arbiter of common sense...and we lubs her..."
It easy to be a big fish in a small pond out here. There's only about a half million people in the whole state so you will have to travel a lot. Compt rooms are a must for most gigs. Before my heart surgery we were hustling up between 80 and 90 a year, covering Wyoming and parts of Montana. That
Only one actual nightclub in town that does live music, except you can't get in to play there unless you're from Minneapolis (over 250 miles away). The owner makes a big deal in his advertising about "Band X from Minneapolis!" which sucks for the local scrappers.
Other than that:
Four or five local bar/restaraunts (family type) that have 2-3 local acts a week - mainly college rock, jazz, blues.
A few "blue-collar" bars that have music (hard rock/cover bands) every weekend.
Two coffee shops that host the ocassional acoustic duo/trio
Three karaoke nights per week at three different places.
Really there's not a lot of competition from DJ's unless you're looking to book private gigs. There has been a welcome trend around here going toward live music, but most of the live bands are self-proclaimed emo/screamo and their audience is of the non-paying type (read: teenagers) so they play the free weekend hey-let's-book-seven-bands-tonight gigs at the local VFW.
I'm booked at least 2-3 nights a week with 2 different bands until the end of September - this isn't counting the music directing at the local theatre company. The competition is stiff, but it mainly comes in the form of price undercutting, you know - the "we'll play for exposure" types. The good news is that the one solid jazz venue we had has been supplemented by another and the owner may not get away with paying us beans anymore.
For a town of 50,000 that is eseentially an island for 70 miles in any direction (in a state that's shrinking) it's not too bad here... for now.
I didn't think it would be this cold...
Gear: Yamaha P-60; Yamaha Motif Rack ES; Nord Electro 2.0/73; Nord Lead 2; Korg Triton Studio 76; Hammond C2 w/perc mod; Leslie 145; Alesis DG8; Yamaha DX7; Fender MIM J-Bass; Steinberg WAV4 Electric Upright Bass; Peavey Raptor; Takamine EG-240; Line 6 Spider II 15; Peavey KB4; Fender Bassman 100; Selmer Mark VI Tenor Sax
The Boston area is pretty good. It's got almost as much variety as NYC...classical, jazz, reggae, folk, rock, blues...C&W is the only thing that's weak around here (though once you get into more rural areas of New England there's some). This is real good news if you have diverse tastes like I do.
The scenes for each genre are constantly changing, I've seen plenty of up and down cycles over the 25 years I've been here.
The city itself is a good hub for working throughout the Northeast. You can be in Portland, ME in under 2 hours, Hartford , CT in 90 minutes, Providence RI in an hour and NYC itself is only 4 hours away.
Club pay is lousy for most original rock and jazz gigs, cover bands can do well and out of town gigs often pay more. I've played gigs in town for $30 a man and taken the exact same band to a club in the burbs for $100 a man. The real money as always is in what they call GB (general business) up here...weddings, functions, private parties.
There's a good support system here for musicians...lots of music stores, recording studios, public/college radio airplay, newspaper coverage, etc.
I actually moved here from CT for the music scene and am glad I did.
Bellingham is in the crapper right now. By the end of the year, both of the good rock clubs will have shut down. You can play Tool and Sublime covers at the frat bar, or you can play at one of the blues clubs, or I suppose if you're a cover band, you can still do okay.
I just moved to Seattle, and you can see a great band any night of the week. Good luck trying to get a show, though.
Les Paul DC Studio/Faded SG/Squier Vista Series Super-Sonic -> Cable -> Tuner -> Soldano Avenger -> Carvin Legacy 4x12.
I'm up in Northern Los Angeles County and have been working steady for the last couple of years. I play in a bunch of differnt bands in the area, mostly at bars, clubs, and service organiztions (Moose lodges, VFW's, etc.) The money is not great (usually anywhere from $50 to $100/man depending on the venue and size of the band), but it's pretty consistent. Every once in a while I'll pick up a private party paying some real money ($250+/man), but those are few and far between.
Every band I'm in is a cover band, whether it's covering oldies, classic rock, C & W, or German polkas. I don't have time to go out and hear many other bands since I'm always working, but I don't think there's too much in the way of original music in my area.
Michael D. www.mdlmusic.webs.com "I'm tired of rock-and-rolling Let's get married, Honey, let's go bowling" --Martin Mull
Originally posted by guitarmook Austin is pretty good... the pay sucks, and it's hard to build a buzz and draw a good crowd, 'cause there's so much competition, but it's friendly competition, and the fact that *I* can go see great music so often outweighs the fact that it's sometimes hard for my band to draw bigger crowds and really progress.
I'd say that's about right.
The local newspaper estimated a while back that there are about 10,000 bands in Austin at any given time. That's a staggering figure! There are several hundred clubs and restaurants that have live entertainment at least part of the time for these bands to shoehorn into. Usually, that means four or more bands per night playing 45 minute sets, for the original music.
Wherever you go in town, whether you buy a sandwich, sit down at a restaurant for a meal, get your car worked on, go for a walk in our beautiful Zilker park, you can be sure you are no more than a few feet from one or more aspiring musicians. If you toss a rock over your shoulder, you're almost certain to hit a guitar player or lesbian folksinger!
Every single day of every single year, at any given moment raggedy old cars are entering Austin on I-35, US290, US281, every possible entry point into Austin, driven by musicians from all over the country and even the world, relocating to Austin where they feel it might be easier to "make it" in music somehow. If you stand a little north of my home on the Interstate, where most arriving musicians see the Austin City Limits sign for the first time, you can almost feel the dreams driving by at 70 mph, interspersed with all the beat up old cars being towed to Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
What that all adds up to is a buyers' market. Great news for people who love to SEE live music. Every single night in Austin there is a vast array of all types of music being played, and covers are very low or non-existent. You might venture out to one of our landmark venues like Saxon Pub or Antone's on a Tuesday night, get in free, and be stunned to see several unannounced famous musicians like John Popper (Blues Traveler), Eric Johnson, Ian Moore, Monte Montgomery, Malford Milligan, etc. sitting in on a set. It's kinda the rule more than the exception.
Austin music is feast or famine. I have routinely worked sound for cover bands making $3,000 to $4,000 on a weekday night, doing a corporate function or playing in a big country dance hall. I've also worked for free for a few original bands I admire and ended up making more than the band, since it often costs them money to play. Original bands like the Bob Schneider fronted Scabs play the big venues and fetch $10-$20/person for a two hour show, making around $10,000 or more a show. Usually, the only limiting factor is the club capacity, and at Antone's that means a very long line all the way around the block of people waiting for someone to leave before they can get in (fire code).
Two doors down, some talented but unknown band plays their hearts out for 10% of the bar, which often comes to $20-$50. Austinites are very jaded, and, though they will pay $50 or more to see one of Austin's finest, they won't pay even $2 to see an unknown band.
Austin bills itself as the "Live Music Capital of the World." Yet, most clubs that feature live music are perpetually struggling, are in a terrible, run-down condition, and go out of business faster than specialty shops in strip malls. The police strictly enforce the noise ordinances with cheap Radio Shack noise meters, requiring a level outside the door that is actually quieter than typical urban traffic noise - and I should know, I study traffic noise for a living.
Bands that play on Austin's famous 6th Street face challenges even to get to the club. Parking is extremely limited under even the best conditions, the street is closed off to traffic most nights, homeless people and gang members wander around everywhere, and gear must often be carried in from distant pay parking lots.
One of my favorite cynical things to do is to cruise down 6th at about 7-8 PM on any evening (before they close off the street) and see all the musicians sitting on the filthy sidewalks next to the homeless people and black piles of beaten up gear, waiting for the club people to show up and open the doors so they can load in. The musicians know they have only a narrow window to unload at the club fronts before the street is closed, so they wait for the bar staff to show up rather than lug hundreds of pounds of gear from blocks away, through the potholes, gangs, cops, and homeless crazies.
Look around, and you might see someone wheeling a Leslie cabinet from blocks away, waiting for the WALK light to come on. It's complete madness.
The bar people, in turn, can't be bothered to show up, in some cases, even half an hour before the show to open the club and let the musicians in. When you do get in, you'll have to sweep aside last night's half finished drinks, ash trays, and sometimes even puke to get the stage clear enough to set up.
But the 6th street district is a dying area. I try to never play there anymore. The live music clubs are closing, the remnants holding on by a thread. The area is being gentrified, people paying millions of dollars for condos cut from old abandoned warehouses (then calling the cops if they hear a faint wisp of music at night), clubs being renovated into upscale restaurants and DJ palaces to attract the wealthy college students while school is in.
The best clubs, Antone's, Saxon, Momo's, Stubb's, Hole in the Wall, Continental, etc. aren't located there. They know customers aren't going to put up with the 6th street parking, cop, and crime problems on a weeknight, then run the DUI gauntlet on the way home.
The new, low rent area for bands is the Red River District, just a few blocks away from the dying 6th street. Much of the same problems can be found there, but the cops haven't yet decided to crush it out like they have with 6th street. Probably because no rich developer has decided to renovate Red River as of yet.
Here's the thing about Austin: you can take up guitar playing today, then play live with a band next week at a club - for free, of course, and probably just to an audience of other musicians waiting their turn to play. The club is surviving on the drinks consumed by four bands and their entourage.
So the clubs are chock full of incredibly ****************ty bands, plus a few really good ones, all of them starving. How are you going to charge cover for your unknown band, when two doors down Monte Montgomery is playing for $5 cover?
If you're an original band in Austin TX, you have to swing for the fence on every pitch. There are no "singles" hit in Austin, no eking out a living playing original tunes. You either knock it out of the park, or you strike out. There are a lot more strikeouts than home runs, of course.
Austin is very humbling in a good way. You may think you can play your instrument, but Austin will bitch slap that idea right out of you. No matter how proficient you might be, I promise you there are better guitar players, singers, drummers - you name it - lying in the gutters begging for spare change, or waiting tables hoping you won't stiff them for the tip.
I recently saw a dude playing guitar and singing at SRV quality, while at the same time playing excellent slap bass with his bare feet - at an open mike, for free. Tough act to follow! I asked him if he was in any bands, and he just shrugged and said, "Nah, I'm pretty particular about who I play with."
You may have heard about our annual music corporate lovefest, South by Southwest. Don't get me started on that!
There are some good sides to this town. Because the clubs make their $$ on the backs of starving musicians, four bands at a time, nearly every club has installed PA. All you bring is your guitar and amp. You have about 10 minutes to set up and start playing, and about five to tear down after your 45 minute set. Soundchecks are unheard of. Austin really makes you efficient and appreciative of light, reliable, simple gear!
I've lived here for almost 20 years, and played most of the clubs. Austin is like no other place I've lived and played before. It is the best and worst of music scenes, almost any other town no matter what size, is easier to make money playing music. If you don't play just for the joy of it, Austin will kill your dreams.
considering the size Des Moines it's not too bad. We have about five clubs that we can play on a regular basis and there is a pretty good turn out usually since there isn't a whole lot else for people to do. A lot of good bands too.
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My fingers, PRS and Taylor guitars, Budda, Fryette and Orange amps, Genz Benz cabs, Line6 effects and wireless, various dirt and fuzz boxes.
In CT, like I said, there's mostly cover bands. It's a very snobby scene in CT. Most of the crowds' attitudes are, "I paid a cover now I'll stand here with my arms crossed until you entertain me." They refuse to listen to anything other than top 40. So almost every band is not only a party band, but a carbon copy of each other. I'd say 90% of the cover bands here play the exact same set list.
As for original bands, there really isn't anywhere to play. Based mostly on the fact that most people around here aren't willing to listen to anything they haven't heard before. Because of this, it's actually killing the cover bands too, because clubs realize they can just have a dj. Alot of clubs are starting to do away with bands and just having djs.
There are a few bars that opened up specifically for original music, and even advertised that cover bands are lame and such. But guess what, now they have cover bands. You'd think in a state with so much income that you could make almost anything work. But there's really not much going on.
Another issue in CT that's killing the original scene is that a great percentage of original bands are awful hear. I mean completely unlistenable garbage. And I consider myself pretty open minded. I can think of 3 or 4 decent original bands off the top of my head, and even they aren't really all that amazing. Most musicians around here just see the dollar signs doing covers.
CT/MA Music - A Site For Connecticut & Western Mass Bands/Musicians/Fans