Someone I know posted an article, they read, on Facebook and when I read it, I nearly fell out of my seat. Someone had finally crafted the words to my beliefs so well that I had to share and comment. Below is my thoughts on an article written by Dave Goldberg as it was found on Scribd.
In a past post, Band Business Basics, Part 3, I explained that you have to look at your music like a business and just as Dave Goldberg explains, the venues you play at, may not look at you that way. Instead, we have to focus on changing the way we think so we can change the way others see us. Goldberg illustrates this in the following excerpt…
“What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75 and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?”
He goes on later to say that venue owners can’t rely on the musicians to bring people to their venue.
“…are you going to find it every night? Because friends and family of a professional musician won’t come out that often. They can’t. This is what we do every night. Would you expect the chef’s friends and family to eat at your restaurant every night? How about the dishwasher, the waitresses, the hostess? Or how about the club owners friends and family? You see, when you start turning this argument around, it becomes silly.”
Goldberge really hits the nail on the head with this flip of the conversation. When I listen to Dave Ramsey, he talks to a lot of people who think it’s okay to have the debt of a mortgage at 4% while they have over $200,000 in investments returning 8%. They look at the math of it and say, “Hey, I’m making 4%”. However, what they don’t take into consideration is risk. When he flips the question around and asks them, “If you had a paid off house, would you get a $200,000 mortgage in order to invest that money in the market?” The answer is always a big fat no. The reason is because of the way we measure risk. The venue owners that Goldberg refers to in his article are not measuring the risk of what this one band’s promotion will do. They see it as a solution to their marketing. However, it only solves a small symptom of their marketing instead of the larger problem of keeping a business running with sustainable patronage. Goldberg even explains why this is a bad business model…
But what they don’t realize is that this is NOT in their best interest. Running a restaurant, a club, a bar, is really hard. There is a lot at stake for the owner. You are trying to get loyal customers that will return because you are offering them something special. If you want great food, you hire a great chef. If you want great decor, you hire a great interior decorator. You expect these professionals to do their best at what you are hiring them to do. It needs to be the same with the band. You hire a great band and should expect great music. That should be the end of your expectations for the musicians. The music is another product for the venue to offer, no different from food or beverages.
So how do we solve the problem?
Well, we have to be educated on business and how it works and how those principles apply to us. Then we have to educate others without being rude and obnoxious.
“I think we as musicians need to fight back. Sure you can get mad about it, but that won’t do anything. We could all agree not to play those for the door gigs, but you know that isn’t going to happen. But what we can do, is explain to the club owner that it’s not in their best interest to operate their business like this. There is too much at stake for them not to be truly invested in the music presented in their venue. Convince them that if they think that live music is important to the demographic that they are trying to reach, then they need to reach out to that demographic in a professional way.”
I personally have experienced these very things when I was playing with Beekin and so when I read this article, it was a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone saying exactly what I had experienced and always believed.
Goldberg goes on to say that he believes if we as musicians educate ourselves, then educate the venues on this simple business principle, as well as living what we preach and looking to fill our gig calendar with venues that understand this, we can go a long way to changing the face of the live music industry…and I agree.