Drawing a Crowd

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by Bob Sushko, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. Bob Sushko

    Bob Sushko TDPRI Member

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    The answers are probably obvious, but lemme ask anyway.
    The live music scene in my area is not the healthiest. I have a blues band and we are at home at this one local bar/restaurant, unfortunately the turn out (not just for us) has been in steady decline. We would really like to help the owner and ourselves create a healthy blues scene in the club. I've begun asking patrons what blues tunes & artists they would like to hear us play next time. The bar has set up vouchers with other businesses where they can come in with like a $20 voucher, have a drink and a snack (bar pie/fries etc.). I'd like to hear any other ideas if ya got 'em!

    Thanks
    BS
     
  2. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, kinda that way here. I don't know the answer though. Some bands willing to play super familiar rock songs are getting more gigs than us I think. And some of those I'm aware are playing way too cheap to get the gig. But we will only go so far with songs and $. It's not about the money really, music doesn't make much anyway, but we feel talent is worth something. We're a little off beat with our oddball songs. I think the club gig scene is in a long decline. Clubs are inundated with musicians and prices decline. Older people used to go out for music more. Now, it's right on the younger people's iPhone. Still, we have those few places where people love us and we count on the summer outdoor gigs.
    We are members but on the fringes of our local Blues Society. But up here it's the closest thing to a "clique" I've seen since high school!
     
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  3. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Last line - too true and too close - at least in my neighborhood. And to think that I was the one who prepared & filed their corporate papers ...

    Nearly 30 yrs after leaving the "club" some order has been restored, and good things are hapoening. But it's still high-school, yup.
    FWIW this can be true in folk orgs, singer/songwriter orgs and other associations for cultural/education/entertainment.
    People can focus on the part that serves their interest only, and forget about other parts of their mission.
    The bands want gigs; the club owners want patrons; the "fan"/members want access or swag...

    Drawing crowds - learn from successful buskers.
    Peace - Deeve
     
  4. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

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    Its very hit and miss, so many choices for people. Last night we had a great crowd but people start filtering out at midnight, we played till 1:30. No one wants to stay out real late anymore, even when we play casinos the crowd dwindle by midnight. What seems to do best are early gigs, afternoons even. Somehow you need to make your gig an event.
     
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  5. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Search “the top Blues Karaoke songs” and see how many of those your band does.
     
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  6. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    we went to a concert friday night.... a rising star on the americana scene... 3 bands... insanely packed... the crowd was such a drunk and clueless mess... we just struggled with it and at least ¾ of the people were in some way related to the band(s).... it really is little league for old people... if you aren't marketing like crazy and twisting arms... you won't fill a club because you are good or put on a good show... you'll need to do that too... but you have to have a whole crew to fill the bars...

    a couple of guys I used to play with are with bands now that play every club.... once... they pack it, but they are not good and so, they don't get to play there twice (unless they can pack it.)

    My advice... you'll have to market and you'll have to create a fanbase that will come every time... for people 40 and older... we will do it once or twice... but we just don't want to do it all the time... and you better be super good.
     
  7. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    A friends band is kinda lousy, but they get booked often because his wife is really social (as is he) and they pull in a whole bunch of people from high school. The other two band members are from the same school. It’s like a mini reunion every time they play. They are mid-50s (work) professionals in a highly populated area.

    Another local band plays like 2-3x a month bouncing around between a couple of bars in my small suburban city. You could walk between the bars. They are a “residents” of that bar scene. Younger guys. That success builds and they get to play all over. They are good. No gimmicks.
     
  8. jimilee

    jimilee Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I’d focus on the classic standards. Pull in the older crowd and maybe rejuvenate the scene a little.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  9. GuitLoop

    GuitLoop Tele-Meister

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    Don't want the thread to take a 'right turn' but until we all have self driving cars to drive our drunk ***es home the bar scene will continue to suffer. :confused:
     
  10. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    man i miss playing out..sidelined for 3rd year..with 2 new CD's done..def missing some $$$
     
  11. Random1643

    Random1643 Tele-Afflicted

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    Good thread. People have great insights and experience. The social aspect, material, quality of effort, etc.

    Probably useful to keep in mind that we're all coming from very different places on the map. I'm in the touristy lakes region of central Minnesota, others are - just scanning profiles - from the DC burbs, central California, somewhere as Texas, Buffalo NY, the Northwest, SE Tennessee, you're in northern NJ. So different kindsa communities, clubs, competing bands, more urban or rural, different audiences, etc. Think about what advice you can apply to your neck of the woods. (Because, apparently, woods have necks. :rolleyes:)

    All of that said, I can say that for me some audiences convey their interest in certain kinds of music. At one brewery where we (a trio) gig pretty often we've noticed that folks generally respond more to the blues than to other genres. We offer a fairly eclectic mix of music but they were just more engaged with the blues. So we accommodate. At other venues people seem to be more into early country, or swing, or a greater variety of songs. Anywho, keeping in mind that I'm in based in the gateway to the Minnesota Northwoods, that's my suggestion. Figure out what your club audience actually wants to hear vs just assuming they need to be lead to the blues.
     
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  12. Bob Sushko

    Bob Sushko TDPRI Member

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    There's Uber & Lyft . . .
     
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  13. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

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    Blues bands have it rough these days from what I’ve seen lately. Not a big scene for it around here, certainly not like it use to be. The baby boomers - old hippie generation really kept the blues scene happening around here for years, but they’re sadly dying off.

    That said, I’d focus on what you can improve upon. For example maybe thoughtfully choosing material that works with most audiences rather than only what you want to play. Working on your stage presence. Maybe incorporate a little schtick if you have the personality chops. Mix the grooves up; a lot of blues band I’ve seen lately seem to throw out the same grooves over and over...“shuffle, shuffle, slow blues, shuffle”...rinse and repeat, and then wonder why nobody hangs around all night. Use FB as a tool, try to create a sense of “a scene” around your band.

    I’ve never seen or heard your band, so I’m certainly not suggesting you aren’t already trying to do these things, just throwing ideas out there. This is all easier said than done, too, I get that, believe me.

    Best of luck. I’m interested in reading more suggestions as well...
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
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  14. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    In my particular case, I have a "blues band", but I would say that we are not as dedicated to the craft as we should be. And we're just starting out, so I will update with my personal experience. We have a mix of blues standards and "blues inspired". Which is a term I just made up. Most of us in the group and fans of the Dead, so we seem to have picked up a lot of stuff that early Dead would play. That and the Stones. So I will make sure next time we play to watch for lips signing along. My intent in the near future is to add some more "roots music" or "rockabilly". So things that are still similar and straightforward in chord progression (because our bassists....) but will be familiar to anyone that has not listened to only top-40 music in their lives.

    Around my way, there are a lot of blues bands that get consistently booked. They get booked in the same places that blues jams are held and sometimes arise from that scene.

    @Bob Sushko I looked up where Alpine, NJ is. Across the river on facebook is the Westchester Blues group/community. They have jams and open mics things that they post a bit. Maybe join that and see what's working across the river.



    A personal data point....my wife and I were going to go see an 80's band on Saturday. It's about 5 miles from my house in a new club (which is really a strip mall full of mechanic shops and dog groomers). Anyhow, she was trying to get folks together and lots of folks cancelled, so we came down to deciding if we were going to go, just us. She wasn't feeling well anyhow so we didn't go. But, it was an $8 cover and uber would have cost us another $10/way. Even if we had a bit to drink at home, that would have been a $40 night (band didn't start till 9, so eat at home). It's tough.
     
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  15. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    How many Blues radio stations have survived in your area?
     
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  16. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    I don't know what draws these days, but know that it's hard to draw young people with blues. If you're going to move blues around here, you have to have someone who sings like a young bb king.

    Atmospheria was popular a decade ago, but isn't now. I think it's less a matter of how to draw with blues and more of a matter of seeing what draws and then playing it. That's not very exciting if you're playing more for you than the audience, but two decades ago when I gigged, I have to admit that when I played what I wanted (classic rock at the time) the girls flowed out quickly. When we played contemporary stuff (rock lite - music like live and stone temple pilots, nirvana, etc) the girls stuck around. I didn't really like playing it and ultimately quit after college, and wouldn't go to the trouble of gigging now because I couldn't imagine a crowd showing up for the things I like to learn these days.
     
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  17. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Modern (rock) Country and 80's/90's music (now called classic rock).

    I couldn't imagine anyone (younger) wanted to stick around listening to a band hammer out Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Mountain, etc. no matter how proficient at it.
     
  18. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    In the early 90s, there was a big resurgence in led zeppelin, early aerosmith, rush, etc. It wasn't hard to keep an audience with it, you just couldn't keep many girls and the audience was bigger if you could choke down the more recent pop stuff. I couldn't name a classic rock station now, but there were four on the dial back then, and they were probably as big as anything except maybe top 40 and country (country station was only big because there was only one at the time, so everyone who wanted to hear country went to it. Country back then was guys with a beard wearing transitions sunglasses, no-name jeans and with a volunteer firefighter plate. I like that crowd just fine, but you won't draw many girls in a crowd like that unless they come with the guys).

    If you got a gig at a small coffee shop type place (small being like 50), you could put together a quieter set of classic rock back then and get through it fine. If you'd have played grunge, that would've been your last gig there.

    Drummer in the band wanted to go weird (Gwar, etc) instead of more normal, we lost our bass player to relocation when he grew up and got a "real job" (replaced by a guy who thought every song needed a primus-type fill and bass noodle at the end) and I ducked out. Worked well while it lasted, we made a few bucks, paid for our equipment and had a way to pick up girls without having to be popular.
     
  19. Henry Mars

    Henry Mars Tele-Afflicted

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    My advice is branch out and play something else besides blues. Up until a year ago I was in a blues band ... I quit. Mind you I don't mostly care about what type of music I play. The fact is that keeping people in a bar for 4 hrs playing only blues is a problem. After one set they get bored and move on. Mostly the only people that care about blues guitar are blues guitarists. So you need to ask yourself if you are playing for an audence or playing for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer ... just reality and results.

    Even though we like to convince our self that people care about it, most of them actually don't. Yes you can intersperse classic blues tunes into your sets... very few want to listen to it all night especially millennial types. That is just the way it is.
     
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  20. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    Interestingly, if you listen to Bluesville on XM, the more modern stuff is more guitar driven than he older blues, which had guitar, but has a lot of harp in it. Or some had piano based things or even older acoustic stuff. But it seems today that all the modern stuff is overdriven guitar and too much of it. No more 3:00 Muddy Waters or Otis Rush stuff.
     
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