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Booked into a corner...


mstreck

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My band has found itself in a situation that we never thought we'd be in. Venues have booked us too often and we agreed to it.

 

Two small venues have us on the books every month for the next few months. We also play at their respective deep-pockets competition, but they have us booked 6-8 weeks apart (which is more how I think it should be). Those four rooms are where we play the bulk of our shows - they are right in our backyard.

 

We aren't booked every month because we're "awesome" - because we're definitely not - but because OUR competition has died off. There really aren't that many other bands to go see. Sure, we're "fun" at first - but you're going to hear 90% of the same songs every time you come see us. There's only so much that we can change in a month's time.

 

So what do I see happening? The venues that have us booked every month are going to kill our draw at their own venue, and also kill our draw at the competition. Then no one's going to want to book us. It's a simple matter of supply vs. demand when the demand doesn't really exist. Crowds are already thin. How many monthly appearances will it take until people just stop coming and those venues don't want to book us anymore - or want to decrease our pay - or worse, cancel the remaining shows because the draw isn't what it was when they booked all these shows?

 

Any way to fix this pickle? Or should we just push through it and hope for the best?

 

Thanks!

 

Mike

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My band has found itself in a situation that we never thought we'd be in.
Venues have booked us too often
.

 

 

Umm, correction:

 

The venues didn't book you too often; the predicament your band finds itself is your own doing.

YOU booked yourself into those venues too often. The venues may have asked, but YOUR BAND agreed.

 

Take ownership of YOUR mistake first.

 

Then figure out how you'd like to adjust the schedule/frequency to better the situation for your band and both venues. And figure a backup plan, and another backup plan. Then go present plans A, B and C to the venues and keep your fingers crossed that they both buy into the same plan.

If they don't, it's time to flat out cancel gigs, and take the consequences that come as a result of what YOU did.

 

Good luck.

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Umm, correction:


The venues didn't book you too often; the predicament your band finds itself is
your own doing
.

YOU booked yourself into those venues too often. The venues may have asked, but YOUR BAND
agreed
.


Take ownership of YOUR mistake first.


Then figure out how you'd like to adjust the schedule/frequency to better the situation for your band
and
both venues. And figure a backup plan, and another backup plan. Then go present plans A, B and C to the venues and keep your fingers crossed that they both buy into the same plan.

If they don't, it's time to flat out cancel gigs, and take the consequences that come as a result of what YOU did.


Good luck.

 

 

Yeah, I'm definitely taking ownership of it. It was a bad business decision. I don't think anyone else in the band quite gets it. They just see a full schedule.

 

I've already talked to one venue and they don't want to change anything. The other has a brand new manager, so we'll see what happens.

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Yeah, I'm definitely taking ownership of it. It was a bad business decision. I don't thing anyone else in the band quite gets it. They just see a full schedule.


I've already talked to one venue and they don't want to change anything. The other has a brand new manager, so we'll see what happens.

 

 

Best bet is be honest with the new manager and say, "hey listen, i was looking at our schedule and I'd like to be 6-8 weeks between gigs here. Can we shift X date and Y date to ___insert available dates here___ . I don't wnat to be too saturated here"

 

I've done that with good success. YMMV

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Even if your crowd is 'local' booking in the same town (or even a town away) can just whittle down your following, especially in winter months. Playing once per month isn't that bad... but if you are also playing down the road a week or two later, it will certainly lead toward people picking and choosing your shows. I find most people will choose the venue versus the date... "When are you back at XXXXX, rather than where are you on the 28th".

 

The only way to 'fix the pickle' is to limit your availability at one or two of these venues. ;) But once per month is not horrible in the winter... especially if it sounds like you have limited venues to choose from. We sometimes cringe at playing the same venue every four weeks, but the reality is most people would prefer to save the gas.

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My band has found itself in a situation that we never thought we'd be in. Venues have booked us too often.


Two small venues have us on the books every month for the next few months. We also play at their respective deep-pockets competition, but
they
have us booked 6-8 weeks apart (which is more how I think it should be). Those four rooms are where we play the bulk of our shows - they are right in our backyard.


We aren't booked every month because we're "awesome" - because we're definitely not - but because OUR competition has died off. There really aren't that many other bands to go see. Sure, we're "fun" at first - but you're going to hear 90% of the same songs every time you come see us. There's only so much that we can change in a month's time.


So what do I see happening? The venues that have us booked every month are going to kill our draw at their own venue, and also kill our draw at the competition. Then no one's going to want to book us. It's a simple matter of supply vs. demand when the demand doesn't really exist. Crowds are already thin. How many monthly appearances will it take until people just stop coming and those venues don't want to book us anymore - or want to decrease our pay - or worse, cancel the remaining shows because the draw isn't what it was when they booked all these shows?


Any way to fix this pickle? Or should we just push through it and hope for the best?


Thanks!


Mike

 

 

Mike it may not be as bad as it seems. I do think crowds thin out in the run up to christmas. Rather than go into panic mode and start trying to cancel and rebook to spread out, you could go into woodshed mode and add some new songs. If the competition is falling by the wayside you are going to end up playing more in your market. Thats just going to be a fact of life. Use the situation to get closer to your fan base. People love their favorite band,, be that band.

 

How many songs can you learn a week? two. In a month thats 8 songs.

 

I think you can overthink this stuff, just be the band that you are ,, and keep adding to your list. House bands many times stay in the same venue for years. They succeed due to their fan base and being a solid band that can deliver the goods.

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The good thing is that you've become aware of the situation and have time to take care of it. It would be better to rearrange some things now and extend your ability to book those venues so close to home for a much longer period. I would say maybe cancel or re-schedule every other booking at the place that wants you once a month. That should take care of the problem.

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I've played with a trio (sometimes 4-piece) on and off for almost 10 years....their set list has hardly changed in that time, nor has their "circuit". I'm becoming more and more of the opinion that it's less about "which" band is playing "what", and more about "where". People generally want to go to their local bar that features live music, and they'll see whoever is playing. I'm sure they like some bands better than others, but I don't think it comes down so much to what their song selections are. But, hey...what the hell do I know? I've only had this "hobby" for 30-some years.

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The good thing is that you've become aware of the situation and have time to take care of it. It would be better to rearrange some things now and extend your ability to book those venues so close to home for a much longer period. I would say maybe cancel or re-schedule every other booking at the place that wants you once a month. That should take care of the problem.

 

 

or create more problems. It going to be tricky to try to cancel a guy that is counting on you in a market where there is a lack of bands. If they want to spread it out on future bookings thats one thing. To cancel is hanging these places out to dry.

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All good points, guys.

 

January's going to be the roughest. We play all four venues in a span of 15 days. These places are all competing for a very limited amount of clientele - and in one of the slowest months of the year. The demand really isn't there in either town, even when it's busy. If one place is packed on a given night, the other usually isn't.

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How many songs can you learn a week? two. In a month thats 8 songs.


I think you can overthink this stuff, just be the band that you are ,, and keep adding to your list.

 

 

This is what I was wondering. Two or three songs a week and that's a new set of material a month. But to be realistic I think you need to step up working up new material in conjunction with some of the other suggestions here and I think you can come out of this all right. Just my $ .02

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This is what I was wondering. Two or three songs a week and that's a new set of material a month. But to be realistic I think you need to step up working up new material
in conjunction
with some of the other suggestions here and I think you can come out of this all right. Just my $ .02

 

 

We always have new material in the works, but not everyone in the band can learn two or more songs a week, and some songs just don't work out for whatever reason, so it ends up being more like three songs a month.

 

People initially like us because we're different from everyone out there playing all classic and modern rock. But once you get used to that difference, we're really nothing special. That's something else that I can't seem to get the rest of the band to understand.

 

I'm always working on new venues. No one out of the area seems very interested right now, so I'll just keep at it.

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I would just keep the differnt theme going. If you thow in somthing different at shows, and your people dig it ,, keep doing it. There are tons of songs that people will recognize and dance to, that are really easy to learn and get to the stage. Most of that stuff has dropped off of set lists and now days is not played to death classic rock. Its easy and its different. If you just do a couple a night, mixed in with your core go to songs its going to keep that different theme going.

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learn new songs?

 

 

+1

 

Change things up a lot - add some jams...

 

See what songs people really like and play them more than once (early/late or when the crowd turns)...

 

As the "house band" for years long running open mics these strategies work for us in a pinch.

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It's more of a time/availability thing. We're all pretty freakin' busy. Throw in family obligations and second jobs and free time is pretty much non-existent.

 

 

I would suggest rather than trying to make it a goal of X songs a week, instead make it Y songs a month; that way, if someone ends up with a few spare hours on a Tues. night, they can 'work ahead' so to speak.

 

Realistically speaking, 2 songs/week is nothing. We're not talking about symphony scores here it's pop/rock.

I have a 45 hour work week, 12 hours of commute time, wife, 2 year old son, regular band practice, occasional side-group practice, gigs, etc., and other obligations, and there's no way I couldn't learn 2/week if I committed to it.

 

That being said, I understand that for some people, the pressure of committing will make it more of a challenge to learn, and you're stuck dealing with them being behind...

The BAND needs to agree on trying to move the needle, or agree that it isn't a goal, and you're happy...where you are.

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I would suggest rather than trying to make it a goal of X songs a week, instead make it Y songs a month; that way, if someone ends up with a few spare hours on a Tues. night, they can 'work ahead' so to speak.

 

 

Yeah, if you all have the same level of drive an commitment. But the reality is that not everyone is a forward thinker. Like I said before - others just see a full schedule and think "hey - we're doing great!"

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Mike,

 

We had a similar problem a while back. Baton Rouge is a great music town, lots of places to play, to the point that for a while, you could book here once a weekend all the time. However... we ran into a similar problem. If you're playing every weekend, it's really hard to consistantly draw, since it's way to easy for someone to say... ehhh I'll just catch them next weekend.

 

Our solution, we dumped the lesser clubs all together and cut ourselves down to basically a gig a month in town. It was hard to swallow at first - it means more travel if you want to play 4-6 times a month. But, the positive has greatly outweighed the negative.

 

At a minimum, I'd look to cut the lesser clubs to 6 times a year, so that you're playing a total of 24 shows a year in your "home town" (which is still too much IMO, but if you can make it work, go for it)

 

As for learning new songs, I don't think that solves much. It's still the same band with the same show, etc. etc. etc. I love AC/DC, but the reality is that if they play TnT or they play Dirty Deads, it's still the same band giving me the same sound. I think even if you know a catalog of 1000 tunes, there's still only so much a specific market can take before it gets over saturated. YMMV

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I wouldn't cancel or reschedule any of the the gigs. Figure out what the proper schedule should look like, and book the clubs that way going forward. In the meantime, learn as many new songs as you can and play out the gigs as scheduled.

 

 

People initially like us because we're different from everyone out there playing all classic and modern rock. But once you get used to that difference, we're really nothing special.

 

 

Then MAKE it something special. This is an opportunity to take it to another level, in terms of showmanship and presentation, in order to keep people interested. You're only competing with yourself. Don't worry if the rest of the band doesn't get it...there's a good chance they will, if you lead 'em. My two cents.

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If you have trouble learning new songs, you need MUSIC STANDS LOL!

 

I will admit I am useless at learning songs. There must be a trick to it but I don't have it (I play keys). Anyway I've gone the 'hi tech' route. I use an iPad mounted on an xCllip mount on my keyboard stand. From the front it just looks part of the gear and is less obtrusive than a real music stand. Cheating ? Yes, but it works for me!

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