I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Elitist Music Venues
I consider it a privilege to perform in a public music venue.
A privilege FOR THE VENUE! This is because I bring in a lot of fans, thirsty for my music and thirsty for beverages served at said venues. It’s a win-win, really.
But you see, in this modern age, I don’t need a public music venue to get my music heard anymore. Or more accurately, my public music venue is the entire Internet. Public music venues are a thing of the past for me and I am selective in what public music venues I play nowadays. I am surprised how many artists and venues have not recognized this huge uncharted territory for live performance, but I am glad because it means the Internet niche is still wide open for me, like when amphibians came up on land in evolution…they had free reign because there were no predators to exploit them.
Sure, I like to get out and play an “analog” acoustic show now and then in front of real live fleshy people whose enjoyment I can appreciate via their applause and compliments after the show (often via tips or merchandise sales). But when it comes to inquiring about performing at music venues, I adopt Honey Badger’s philosophy: “I don’t give a sh!t.” Only the best venues for Cactus Joe. I don’t settle.
Music venues often are exploitative of artists. Historically, there have always been way more artists desperate to perform than music venues for them to perform at. So naturally, venues could be selective. They are still selective, but desperate artists now have lots more alternative venues at which to perform, particularly online, and that’s leveling the playing field for the performing artists who recognize this gold mine. As an introvert (mostly), I can honestly do without the anonymous, drunken hordes at most sh!tty music venues. Drunken hordes bring revenue to venues, but not to me. So why should I give a sh!t?
My rock-n-roll band HIATVS actually has a strict NO SH!TTY MUSIC VENUES policy for picking shows. We mainly do private house parties and the occasional fest or prestigious music venue (like Capital Brewery in Madison WI, for example).
I recently solicited a local music venue that shall remain unnamed about performing there, providing dates, a bio, and, importantly, a sample video of me performing my music. This is a fairly elitist establishment, with some big names that perform there (some of them musical colleagues of mine, like Beth Kille). I fully expected a rejection, but much like Honey Badger going into a bee hive to get honey, I submitted anyway.
Rejection from venues usually comes in the form of no reply at all, or a polite rejection delivered months after any dates you proposed playing there. This is par for the course.
Here is the rejection I got within 24 hours from the local music venue that shall remain unnamed:
“We are going to pass! Thanks for the interest!”
Local Music Venue That Shall Remain Unnamed Booking Team
Ouch! … is what a lot of artists other than me might say in response to that. But Honey Badger gets stung all the time and he still goes for the honey. That’s me. However, when I told some friends about this, they said it was a totally rude and unprofessional response from a venue that is supposed to be classy. I could go into why, but I just don’t give enough f@cks. I am surprised I even wrote this much about it. I am just bored I guess.
But back to the real point of this post…even dickish rejections like that don’t matter. I can go home tonight, set up a microphone and camera in my music room and broadcast a great sounding song or entire show LIVE STREAMED to the Internet all over the entire PLANET and then archive it for later viewing by anyone who missed it. Can a sh!tty music venue do this? Well, yes, technically they can. But they usually don’t.
Nowadays, I favor house concerts as my primary vehicle for analog public performances. They have a lot of pros and few cons. They are live shows for a present audience of nice, like minded people, but can also be streamed online and recorded for later. I have organized my own house concert parties with a few close friends, raising money for concert food and drink with a crowd funding campaign. Funding is acquired up front and you know how many people are coming. When people show up, all the food and drink is free until it’s gone. No $7 beer in a plastic cup! They are usually held in residential houses and there are no parking hassles. People can even stay the night, if they party too hard. Best of all, I can host my own house concerts and set any dates I want. I am not beholden to the finicky booking calendars of public music venues and their often douchy booking agents (in all fairness, douchiness is sometimes a good quality in a booky…there are some hacks out there).
Public music venues can’t offer any of this. They are completely disenfranchised from the house concert scene, and that’s a good thing. Live music is evolving.