Read this letter written into The Lefsetz Letter in response to another letter written to Bob from Bonnie Hayes. The writer of this letter makes a very good point about playing clubs and where to focus on building a fan base and it’s not in the clubs. Now, every local market is totally different so just because the DC club market apparently sucks according to the author, you should still expand your horizons.
Here is the text of the letter…
I’m a musician from DC as well. This is advice is wrong. No musician wanting to be anything but a hobbyist should be playing in bars at all. I don’t know what its like in other places, but in DC payment for playing in bars hasn’t gone up since the 70s. There is a reason: NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. The bar owners don’t care and the audience doesn’t care. It’s standard practice for venues to forbid bands from playing anywhere else within 30 miles for a month in exchange for a gig. The reason for this is they know that no one but your friends are going to come. If bars could make money off of a house band, they would have house bands, not DJs, and you could build an audience. They can’t and you can’t so don’t do it. Don’t spend your money and muscle on shelping expensive equipment around or moving to LA. Spend that money on Pro Tools, a Mac and a camera. The internet is the only place where an unknown (without an uncle in the business or a million dollars) can get an audience at all. Make a video a week, think of it as your gig. Do covers and originals.
Most important of all, interact with your audience. Think of it like your talking to fans after a show. We are a really small band, 2000 subscribers and over 200,000 plays on YouTube, and we were able to raise over $8000, via Kickstarter, to make a record and none of that money came from Mom and Dad. Here is an example of a conversation with one of our fans from Australia. In a casual message on facebook we told her we couldn’t afford a new camera. She wrote this:
“Hard work deserves being rewarded. I have been very impressed with the effort you are putting into your career.
I am not rich, and I don’t intend to be. I am comfortable and if my ‘folly’ is giving you guys help every once in a while… I see as rewarding!
I don’t ever expect anything back long term out of you either. I see a life as ‘being full of stories’. Basically this money I am giving you entitles me to tell my grandkids about the really cool band that I helped buy a camera for at the start of their career:)”
She then gave us an additional $500 to buy a new camera. This fan was out there for us. She was in Australia. GO FIND YOUR FANS, THEY AREN’T IN A BAR!!!!
Here is our latest video, it’s a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” played only with stuff we found in our kitchen… sounds like The Neptunes. http://youtu.be/9dmuZmo8R4o