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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Ether Part 2 - My Beef With The Local Music Scene

On the face of it, to many of you writing this post will look like quite a strange decision on my part and there is a fair chance that you are right. But all of what I say below hasn’t been written for effect or to try and attract hits. There is a real possibility that I could lose work over this. But I genuinely believe these things need to be pointed out and I think I am in a position to do so. Therefore I think I would be letting myself down as well as letting all of you down if I didn’t put pen to paper so to speak. So here goes…

One of my main issues is with venues and in some cases the people who promote events at these venues. Or more accurately don’t promote events at these venues. If you are a venue who is going to put on bands, then you need to decide whether you are going to fully commit to it or not. Because if you aren’t going to take it seriously just stop pretending. I’m sick of seeing venues promise bands the world and then deliver absolutely nothing. If you want to ‘support local music’ by putting a band (s) on then promote it! Of course the band will bring people but it is your job to also put the word round and get people through the doors.
In addition I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you pay the bands something, even if is only expenses. I have no problem with you offering a trial period or whatever to see how a band goes down but it should not cost them money to help you. Yes, you are giving them a platform to perform, but they are also bringing fans into your establishment who will put money in the till. And members of the band may have given up a nights work to come and do this gig, so it’s only fair that they don’t get hit in the pocket twice surely? I know some of you will say that bands need to pay their dues etc and back in the day bands gigged for free all the time, and yeah they did but just because something always happened does not mean that it should continue.

I witnessed a prime example of this amateurish approach the other week when going to see a gig at Vagabonds in Brierley Hill. They had barely promoted the event therefore, for a Saturday night the turnout was shockingly low. People simply didn’t know that there was a gig on. The sound system and equipment was awful. If your equipment is useless then no matter how brilliant the band is they will sound rubbish. The knock on effect is that those in the audience will probably never see that band again because they sounded so bad and in reality couldn’t tell if they were any good, plus it demotivates the band because they know they are facing a night long struggle to try and look decent. Simply put if the sound is useless, people won’t come back. I have also heard rumours about this particular venue that they are not exactly reliable when it comes to paying their bands either, if this is true that’s just pathetic.
Now as many of you know I am not employed to write to for anyone. This is all off my own back, I have no one paying for the articles that I turn out, I do it because I love it. But like all of you I hate it when people think that they can take advantage of this. The plus side of doing this of course is that generally I get to cover bands etc that I like so when I cover your band or event I will be giving you a load of free publicity. After all this blog gets hits all around the world. So when I do a gig for a band for example I ask that I get free admission, and petrol money. I don’t ask a fee to make a profit but I think it’s fair enough that it doesn’t cost me money while you the band get all the benefits.

Many people that I work with agree with me and think that this is fair enough, as I am basically providing a service and they are using my particular set of skills. However, my skills and my profession are writing and blogging, but as ‘everyone can write’ I am expected to just do it for free. Now let’s flip that round, I have a basic knowledge of how plumbing works but when I ask for a plumber to come to my house to do a job I don’t expect him to do the job for nothing do I?
But what is worse is saying that you want me to review your stable of acts and work with your little business and then ignoring me when I ask if I could get petrol money for driving all-round the West Midlands giving YOU and YOUR bands a load of publicity. Deal with me like a real person, common courtesy is free. (Yes BritRock Army Management I am looking at you)

The bottom line of all this is that things could be so much better, and people like those that I am talking about above are giving some brilliant people a bad name. The music scene in the Midlands and the West Midlands in particular is buzzing right now and there are some amazing people doing a lot of brilliant work, but some of you are letting these people down.
Help nurture local talent and local people don’t destroy them.  

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