Local music... who decides?
grady at ibiblio.org
Tue Feb 5 13:24:14 EST 2008
I don't book a club, but I play a variety of other (to use the honest
word) gatekeeper roles--I make most of the recommendations as to what
local CDs get playlisted at WXDU, for example. I book the bands who play
live on my radio show. I decide what shows I list on trianglerock.com.
And to be perfectly honest, if a local band has a "manager," that's an
instant red flag for me. I get a fair number of emails about shows &
bands & whatnot, and as I'm skimming them for the tiny kernels of useful
information (who/where/when), if I see "Manager" in connection with the
sender's name, I'm inclined to stop reading.
This is especially true when the manager uses the collective "we" when
referring to the band, as if he/she were a full-fledged bandmember, if
in fact he or she does not get up onstage & play an instrument with the
Does this make me a bad person? Yes, sure, almost certainly. Thankfully
I'm at least aware of this, so if the band sends a CD or has music on
their MySpace, I'll probably listen to it anyway. But it'll be starting
at a deficit with me.
The only rationale I can present by way of explanation is this one: I've
listened to a couple of thousand CDs by an endless stream of local bands
over the past 16 years, and with the exception of a brief period when
Shawn Rogers was managing the Archers, I've almost never heard anything
from a local band with "management" that was worth a shit.
(Now, obviously, once a band hits a certain level--like, say, Squirrel
Nut Zippers, or Tift Merritt, or Ryan Adams--then management becomes a
necessity. But that bar is pretty high, and if you're struggling to get
booked into Local 506, I'm guessing you haven't hit it yet.)
I'll let Glenn speak for Local 506, as I'm sure he's hard at work
composing a reply right-this-second.
To answer the more general question that you're asking (why do some
bands get gigs more readily than others?), I can think of a couple of
1) the club owner has booked that band before, and they drew well, so
he's gonna book them again
2) the club owner listened to that other band's CD, and your CD, and the
other band's CD was better than your CD
What Glenn might say (I guess we'll find out in about 15 minutes) is
that even though Local 506 seems like a small club, it's still not a
starter-level club--it has a capacity of a couple hundred people. There
are quite a few bars around here who do live music, and have a capacity
of <100. Are you having the same amount of trouble getting booked at
(for example) Jack Sprat, or Nightlight, or the Cave, or Dain's Place in
What Glenn will probably also say, because he's said it before, is that
at any given time, there are a couple of hundred local bands trying to
get booked into the dozen or so local clubs that book local bands.
I suppose if this were some kind of Rainbow Soccer version of a local
music scene, then everybody would get to play at every club exactly 1.6
times per year (but some peeps would still get stuck with Monday night).
Let me close with an age-old suggestion: make friends with one or more
of those bands who get shows at all the clubs you want to get shows at.
It's not uncommon for a local band who are known to draw well to get
some input into who opens for them.
chapelhillguitarist at hotmail.com wrote:
> Hi all.
> Preface: This is not 'sour grapes'. My intention is to understand
> the dynamic so that myself and others don't have to be frustrated
> unnecessarily when trying to book a new band.
> I recently received an email from Local 506 about the goin's on at
> that venue. Lots of great music acts and many of them local. Kudos
> to Local 506 for hosting local talent in more than a token way.
> However, ( this is meant to be a serious question ) when all requests
> to book a band are ignored by any club that books local acts
> (including 506), how does a band manager avoid feeling like they are
> fighting favoritism?
> What do I mean 'favoritism'? It seems the same local bands are
> playing all of the local clubs yet when I try to book one of the local
> bands that I manage, most of the time I don't even get a response. I
> have visited the clubs, introduced myself, politely inquired via
> email, telephone and in-person yet all of these local clubs are
> So what am I raving about?
> If a band manager has a great local band but local clubs won't speak
> with them about booking the local band, what advice can you offer to
> ensure communication with the club manager short of firing the band
> manager or stalking the club manager?
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