The beginning of the end?

UnknownI came so close to using this piece of writing as my Adver article this week but then thought that moaning on such a public platform wasn’t the best course of action and so decided to place it here. It is just some thoughts conjured by the recent turn outs at gigs that I have been involved with, it is nothing you haven’t heard from me before so feel free to switch off at this point. If you are still with me at the end of the article hopefully it will stimulate some sort of debate.

 

It’s tough trying to get people to turn out for original music these days, money is tight, gigs are often on week days, there is a lot of competition from cover bands and tributes, nostalgia seems to be big business these days, the amount of coverage on TV, free streams and downloads and I even think that live performance isn’t as important to a lot of emerging artists as they can find an internet audience without the effort of lugging gear around and trying to get venue bookings. I certainly don’t think that live music is as important to the younger audience who seem more preoccupied with taking “selfies” just to prove how cool they are with the band in question being a secondary factor.

 

The times they are a changing, to quote the mighty Zim! Anyone working in and around original music has to be forward looking and so moving with the times is to be expected. The clever ones will catch the wave and become part of the next trend, those slower off the mark will move into other areas. I’m aware that times change and so they should.

 

This rant is more aimed at those who constantly profess to be supporters of live music but who do nothing to support it. The ones who actually turn out to gigs know who they are and they have my thanks, often personally given at the bar of said gig but my thinking is that if those who profess to support live music and particularly the original music scene (and lets face it without the original scene what are those cover bands going to be playing in twenty years time) actually went to a gig as often as they moaned about the death of live music, then I wouldn’t feel the need to write this.

 

So this is aimed at all those people who:

 

Post banners about how Simon Cowell is killing live music but still watch his shows.

 

Tell me that music isn’t as good as it was back in their day.

 

Play in bands but don’t go to watch other bands.

 

Go to gigs to watch their friends in the support act and then don’t stick around for the out of town main act.

 

Only go to one venue because it is what they have always done.

 

Don’t buy the CD at the gig because it is £3 and that is almost a pint (or at least  the same amount of premium German lager you have spilt on your shoes tonight)

 

Will “catch them next time” – there may not be a next time as the band have split up due to constantly being broke or at the very least are now churning out Kings of Leon covers for cash.

 

Say it’s too expensive to watch a band when the gig is free and within walking distance (I mean how drunk do you need to get on a Thursday night?)

 

In short all those people who will bemoan the loss of live original music but never did anything to support it. It the last year we have lost The 12 Bar, The Furnace and The Running Horse Acoustic Sessions, more and more pubs are opting for food over music, The MECA never really got it’s act together, The Bowl is very hit and miss in it’s bookings, The Big Arts Day was cancelled…and I’m sure there is more to come. For my own part, Green Man Music will promoting only half as many gigs next year as it did this year and even the future of those is not on the most solid ground.

 

So what do you want to do about it?

 

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6 thoughts on “The beginning of the end?

  1. Interesting to see what will come of this, it is an extremely difficult situation. I am endeavouring to keep the Acoustic Sessions alive at the moment but it is difficult to find a suitable venue who will invest a little in the music by paying the artists, something that I personally believe to be a crucial factor in securing good quality performers. The other big factor as pointed out in the article is that these guys play to be able to put their music out to an appreciative audience, if the audiences aren’t there, what is the future for music. I guess that if you are reading this then you already have some involvement, but what do you want from your gigs, are you, the audiences willing to invest a little to keep music alive, how can we make it something which will attarct you to come out and get involved, let us know!

  2. Part of the problem for me personally getting out to gigs is the fact that I now have a young family so it becomes harder and harder to get out on an eve. I probably, now, go to only about two gigs a month and usually at different venues across the region. In a perfect world I’d love to be able to get out to more but with the best will in the world that has become harder and harder. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about the younger generation. They are the ones who don’t have the commitments of us oldies so should be able to get out more but seem more interested in staying at home and talking to each other virtually through Facebook rather than going out and tearing up the town. It’s a cultural shift that has seen each generation getting less and less social. It’s not just about a cultural shift away from live music, it’s a cultural shift away from live interaction. I’m sure, though, that this is only a temporary thing and culture will shift back to the more person to person socialising of our youth. It’s our job to keep going and make sure the scene is as good as it can be in the hope that we can tempt some of these youngsters back from the wilds of social media to the comfy bosom of guitars, drums and a lead singer with tight trousers. By then all my kids will be over 18 so I can finally drag them to the gigs myself and increase the audience of the average show by 400%.

  3. I remember things seeming bad during the mid 90s when attendances were down a lot. For me, the biggest problem of all is the lack of surprises. What draws you to a gig? As an idiom, hairy blokes and/or lasses stood on a cramped stage, pretending they are rock gods has been plumbed as deep as its every likely to get. Sure, there are some (a few!) excellent musicians and performers amongst them – but so many seem to think that just standing there and delivering 4 minute songs whilst the audience stands in mute admiration (aside from politely clapping between numbers!) is enough in itself. I think live music is losing its way because its no longer associated with a creative counter-culture. Its become a cliche of itself – hence the polarity of tribute and covers bands. Its all well doing something original but HOW original are most of these bands actually being? Time hasn’t stood still since 1985 and I’ve been marinaded in music, positively DROWNED in it, but not really seen very much change, tbh. Consequently, not a lot stands out as interesting. I ‘support’ live music – but if I’m going to drag myself out on a rainy night to spend money I can’t really afford, I’m only going to keep doing it if I don’t end up watching yet another earnest young man or woman on an acoustic or some bald blokes paying homage to Nirvana. Its made me more selective. I’ll go and see stuff I like and willingly pay my money to buy the merch and encourage others to do so too. But I simply don’t have the motivation (or money) to do it for the tedious and the mediocre stuff which I feel seems to be making up an ever higher percentage of whats on… Live music waxes and wanes. I think we’re just going through a natural swing of the pendulum at the moment.

  4. This gives me a pang of guilt Dave. Which, I guess, is a good thing. I should get out and watch more bands and will try to do so more in the future but the problem for the likes of me, ie – old gits coming back to music after a break for kids, proper jobs, shift work and mortgages, is finding the time. We struggle to find time to practice on a regular basis let alone get out to gigs. However, you’re absolutely right in what you’re saying and I will thy to commit to supporting live music a bit more. It’s a little disheartening playing to a half empty room but I certainly stick around and watch all bands on the bill and like a chat afterwards, even on a school night.
    In short, as I’ve said before, keep up the good work and I will try to get out there more, not just for my own gigs and I hope you’ve had that effect on many more people by posting this and we start seeing these fantastic events and venues filling up.

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