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Casey Karp
04-13-2018, 03:06 AM
Long question for what's probably a short answer. I'll be a little vague because I'm looking for generic answers, not anything tied to a specific region. That said, I'd prefer answers with an American orientation.

I've got a group of secondary characters who are in a band. They've got a reasonable following in their hometown, which is a small tourist trap in the middle of nowhere. They've got a website with the usual photos, videos, and sample tracks.

Now, for story reasons, they've come to the Big City.

How do they relaunch themselves? Is making the rounds of clubs, bars, and other venues and pushing their tapes at the owners/managers a viable strategy to get their first few gigs? Or is everything done online now? Or am I completely off, and they should be looking for the musical equivalent of open mike nights (though how that might work for a four-member band with all the usual instruments and electronic impedimentia boggles my mind)?

Jaymz Connelly
04-13-2018, 10:57 AM
What era are you asking about? If it's current, I've got nothing I can share. But if it happens to be the 80's or 90's, given how well you say they're doing in their hometown, I'd figure they have a manager. The manager would be the one to really push to get them gigs in the big city - and he'd be calling everyone he knows with the slightest connection to likely venues in the big city. They'd likely start off at small bars and if that goes well and they sell out, they'd gradually move on to bigger venues.

Back then, A&R people for the various labels would go and see up and coming bands as part of their job, and if they saw a band with potential, things could move forward to sign the band up and get them opening for a bigger act, etc.

My knowledge base - I worked in the music industry in the mid-80's in Canada.

Debbie V
04-13-2018, 07:55 PM
There are open mikes for music at folk venues. And the people do carry in keyboards and guitars (or possibly play a piano belonging to the venue). It's the drum set that's difficult.

Some communities also have battles of the bands that may involve local bands from around the region, extending a group's reach. That said, today's groups are mostly discovered online from what I can glean. But demo tapes could be sent out too. I'd think they'd go before the band hits the city unless the move was on an emergency basis. It's very hard to make a living as a musician, no different than as an author. Love the arts.

Here's a place to start some research:http://www.openmicnewyork.com/ Gigs in NYC, The Bronx and Brooklyn would be in the big city. The rest are suburban.

April Days
04-13-2018, 08:48 PM
What about a booking agency?

Casey Karp
04-13-2018, 10:56 PM
Jaymz, yes, contemporary. Sorry, I thought I had included that, but I see not.

Yeah, there are story reasons why they can't set anything up in advance of the move or continue to play in their original location.

If the direct sell (either by the band themselves or via their manager) Jaymz describes is still a legitimate strategy in some genres, I'm happy to go with that. It solves some story problems, and--arguably more importantly--it feels legit to someone who's not part of the industry.

April, doesn't that just push the question back a level? Do agencies have some kind of a doorkeeper role, require the musical equivalent of a query? Or is it a "we'll take anybody" kind of deal?

Siri Kirpal
04-13-2018, 11:18 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Managers are not an ask and have proposition in any of the arts. I know professional actors who still don't have them and not for want of trying. Same is true in music.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Jaymz Connelly
04-14-2018, 02:42 AM
I based my supposition that the band had a manager on the OP's information that the band was doing very well in their hometown. If a manager is looking for clients, they'd likely check out the 'hot new band', decide if the money they'd get to represent them would be worth their effort to promote the band, and then negotiations with the band would be entered into.

But that raises another issue - if the band does have a manager in their hometown, does the manager move with them? Or do they part ways? Or does the manager work with them remotely?

Either way, if they're wanting to be in the live music scene, even if it's in today's time, I would think someone would have to go to the various clubs and try to talk the manager of the club into hiring them for one night, or a series of nights. Or perhaps one night with the promise of more if they do well the first night. They could point the bar manager to their website, particularly if they have some of their music up on it, to sell themselves and score the gig.

They'd also start off in the dive bars and gradually work their way up - UNLESS some big-shot manager sees them play, thinks they have potential, and fast tracks them. Mostly unlikely in the real world, but hey, it's your story, you can make that happen for them if it works with the story.

Casey Karp
04-15-2018, 02:10 AM
Sounds like I'm good then. As I said initially, the band are secondary characters; what's going on with them is one of the effects of the main character's actions, and not a major focus of the story. So I'm okay with eliding some aspects of Reality As We Know It, and letting them sell themselves rather than getting a manager to do it for them.

Thanks to those who made suggestions. Reputation points have been sent.

WeaselFire
04-15-2018, 04:12 AM
In my experience, the girl singer's current love interest calls himself the band's manager and goes to the worst dives in town and works out gigs for free beer and the take at the door. Often on Thursday night, when nobody shows up. :)

Jeff

Siri Kirpal
04-15-2018, 08:26 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Bands in that situation would probably be opening for better known acts.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Larry M
04-15-2018, 06:12 PM
When I was playing in rock bands in the '80's, a new band could make a little money. Recently, though (although I don't play out any more, friends still do), the biggest problem new bands face (or bands trying to make it in a new or bigger market), are the club owners/booking managers who don't want to pay these bands. They often offer them gigs for "exposure," which is code for 'we're too cheap to pay you, but we want to make money off of you.'

Many bands accept this as, depending on the market they're in, it can be either that or no live gigs.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors to consider, however, this is a trend in the modern music scene in many areas (and a major source of frustration for musicians trying to make a name for themselves.)

Casey Karp
04-16-2018, 01:24 AM
In my experience, the girl singer's current love interest calls himself the band's manager and goes to the worst dives in town and works out gigs for free beer and the take at the door. Often on Thursday night, when nobody shows up. :)

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Love it. Not appropriate for my story's situation, so I can't steal it, but I wish I could. Thanks!


When I was playing in rock bands in the '80's, a new band could make a little money. Recently, though (although I don't play out any more, friends still do), the biggest problem new bands face (or bands trying to make it in a new or bigger market), are the club owners/booking managers who don't want to pay these bands. They often offer them gigs for "exposure," which is code for 'we're too cheap to pay you, but we want to make money off of you.'

No different than websites offering writers gigs for exposure. Nice to know we're not alone. Again, not relevant to my story--at least as it's developed so far, but since I'm a pantser, it's worth keeping in mind. Thanks for the info.

DarienW
04-16-2018, 03:54 AM
I was in a band in the late 80s/early 90s, and I like Debbie's idea about a Battle of the Bands.

A bigger problem, no matter where they play, is they need bodies to come to the show. I'm guessing clubs still keep track of who is coming to see who, as clubs often book multiple bands with shorter sets to fill the clubs and sell booze.

As you say, they are secondary, so what is the outcome you need? Do they rocket to success? Does the main story revolve around seeing the band?

Like Larry mentions, even in the 90s, for some clubs, the band would have to earn a certain amount from the cover charge, and if they didn't, the band would have to pay to play. This was in the Boston area, BTW.

I can say, trying to get your friends to one show was doable, but multiple shows . . . they wouldn't take my calls, LOL!!!

If the band is new to town, and their "following" can't travel there, promoting themselves in a new place would be hard, so they might get some opening act gigs, early in the night before people show for the headliners, or like Debbie suggests, a Battle of the Bands would be believable, as they have a website and rep from where they traveled from.

Hope any of that helps.

And Jeff, :ROFL:

Casey Karp
04-16-2018, 05:34 AM
To be blunt, I don't care about the outcome. Hunting up a couple of gigs is just one minor scene included mostly to indicate the passage of time between two significant events in the main character's life.

So as I said, I'm going to go with them basically going door-to-door to talk to owners/bookers. Whether it's the whole band or one member is up for grabs, but largely irrelevant to the basic question.

And, as far as I'm concerned, this thread is closed.

Thanks much to everyone who participated.