The Independent Musicians
As some of you might know in my previous life, I was an audio technician touring with various groups – some known and unknown. I also happen to have eclectic musical tastes. In the past few years I have stumbled upon some musicians through the Interwebs. I have supported some through Kickstarter, Bandcamp, buying direct, and most recently Patreon. I also have had some interesting conversations with artists on Twitter.
The most recent interaction I had got me thinking and created this post. But first the recap of the conversation with Marian Call (@mariancall http://mariancall.com) and Kim Boekbinder [Impossible Girl] (@KimBoekbiner http://theimpossiblegirl.com). There were branches in the conversation so I tried to make it as understandable as a Twitter stream from an iPhone can be.
Me: @KimBoekbinder @mariancall i am curious why go to cities where sales are strong and not go to uncharted areas to increase audience base?
Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder I try to alternate. You can’t eat if you play too many uncharted areas. Strong strong weak, strong strong weak.
@BradfordBenn @mariancall Oh yeah – that’s what labels pay for. Those of us without labels can only afford to go where we are wanted.
@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Touring is incredibly expensive, on the order of hundreds per day. If you don’t recover that you sink.
@KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn My exception was the 50 states tour. I carefully planned strong and weak cities for months.
@KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn It was a great experience and made lots of new fans, but after 9 months I wound up with $0 in the bank.
@BradfordBenn What @mariancall said. Only I have so few strong cities I can’t get far enough to increase my presence.
@mariancall @BradfordBenn Not only is tour expensive – it is exhausting. So you can’t just work another job to make ends meet.
Me: @mariancall @KimBoekbinder understand the costs of touring. Thanks for clarifications, new world since i was touring as an audio tech. Marian:
@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Audio techs rule. Me:
@KimBoekbinder @mariancall still support both of you & your work and would like to see you both play live. How can i help?
@BradfordBenn @mariancall So cool. I love touring, wish I could just go and go and go.
@BradfordBenn @mariancall Where is Wonderment?
@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Where are you, first of all?
Me: Wonderment is a state of mind, learning and seeing things that are interesting. I travel quite a lot for work, my home is South Bend, IN but have spent time in So Cal the past 3 months. Yes, i listen to you on planes
Marian: Sometimes it takes a couple years but we get there!
@BradfordBenn Folks who get really excited about planning a concert near them, and who can bring 30-50 people, mostly get their way.
@bradfordbenn Not to pile on you! It’s a good question. It’s a funny business, far less profit and far more risk than most folks think.
Me: @mariancall didn’t think piling on. Thanks for concern. Think having good conversation. Might even become a blog post.
Marian: @BradfordBenn Being on my email list is the first best step: http://mariancall.fanbridge.com this year I won’t tour much, but I will a little.
@mariancall yup am on the list and have already bought Sketchbook. Will get CD also cause i prefer WAV to FLAC and MP3
I know much of the things that they were talking about from my past experiences, but the scale was very different. Understanding this different economy and music sales process in this century is interesting and different from other businesses. When I travel for work and make sales calls, I often ask to go see the potential customers that are not familiar with my company. When I travel on sales calls, I can interweave existing customers with new customers because there are multiples of each in one city. For a musician that is not always possible, as there are only so many customers (fans) in each city. However the costs remain high for each city, hotel, transport, equipment rental, venue costs… etc.
You may ask, why am I sharing this post and conversation. There are a couple of reasons.
The first was that I found it interesting so I thought my reader would also. As someone involved in the professional audio industry it is very good to hear from other people involved in the process.
It reminds me why it is important to purchase music and not just stream it or download. Pay or support someone for their effort. I am not saying you have to support everyone, but support the artists that you like.
Go out and try new music, search the interwebs, branch out, you might find something you like. Go to concerts that friends have recommended. I think you get the idea.
There are more music outlets than iTunes, Amazon, and Google.
A few suggestions of some of the artists I have been supporting:
New Year, New Rule
My faithful reader might remember that in August of 2009 I posted my Three Rules. These rules apply all the time, of course tempered by common sense. At the time I alluded to there being a fourth rule being considered. I am pleased to announce that after much testing and verifying that there is now a fourth rule.
The Four Rules are:
- I am not prejudiced, I hate everyone equally.
- Do not ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do.
- If you are not sleeping with me, I don’t care who you are sleeping with.
- Don’t see anyone you work with, without their pants on.
Many people think I am being flippant with these Four Rules, but I can say that they have gotten me through life this far. I wish I could say I have followed these rules my whole life, but I did not crystalize them until I was in my 30’s. Now in my continuing effort to leave things (the World) better than I found it I am sharing my rules with you.
It seems like these don’t really make sense until you start thinking about them as they actually apply in daily life. Let’s take a look at each rule.
I am not prejudiced, I hate everyone equally.
This is my flippant or sarcastic approach to equality. I believe in treating people equally however as I have found from traveling, I dislike People. People are different than a Person. It does not matter their background, race, religion, creed, or gender they all annoy me. I see the Person for their behaviors and actions; that is what one should be judged on. People are all the same in my eyes, a Person might be different.
Do not ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do.
This one applies in many situations and is very closely related to the “Golden Rule” of treating people like you would like to be treated. An easy example is the borrowing of money, do not ask someone to lend you an amount of money you would not be comfortable lending out. It can also apply to the work place, such as asking someone to work extra hours, if you wouldn’t do it why would you expect someone else to?
If you are not sleeping with me, I don’t care who you are sleeping with.
This one is not as straight forward as some of the other rules. However it still applies. It started with people gossiping about who was going out with whom. Relationships are hard enough why make it harder by gossiping about it. The additional application of this rule is toward LGBT couples. As long as things are between two consenting adults, why should it bother me. It is just the same to me as whether someone likes chocolate or vanilla ice cream. It is personnel preference and as long as you are not pushing your opinion on anyone why should I care?
Don’t see anyone you work with, without their pants on
This rule also requires a lot of common sense. I think everyone understands this one, don’t bring personal relationships into the office. It makes things harder, there are always calls of nepotism as well. Also I use this rule to explain to people why I won’t share hotel rooms. In my opinion when traveling everyone needs a little privacy and sharing hotel rooms can prevent that from happening. If you and your partner are starting a business together, that would be excluded. It is key to remember that the word with is in there, couples can work for the same company just I would avoid being in the same project.
It is important for each person to find their own code and rules to live by. These Four Rules are my guideposts. They have gotten me this far, however remember to temper all things with thought.