VANCOUVER — An unsettling and never-ending battle is raging on between promoters and bands. The finger pointing is real and the reason turnouts are fading is more complex and the result of an accumulation of variables.
A recent Facebook rant directed towards promoters blamed poor turnout on lack of presale tickets for bands to hustle. In my experience, unless it’s a bigger show with a popular touring act, or you’re a promoter taking on one show at a time, this is just cost prohibitive. As someone who books 25+ local bands a month, I can’t imagine chasing around dozens of band members to hustle tickets if I can’t even get them to share a Facebook event or invite people to it. In the old days it was getting band members to pick up the gobs of handbills that I would print; the lack of hustle for some has always been real, regardless of the tools of the era that were produced.
Then there’s the plea for band participation from people trying to put on shows. The line was “imagine being a cheerleader on a desert island.” Brilliant. That was coined by local promoter Johnny Matter and it is our experience these days as we do our best. The carnival barker is alive and well, and is generally left yammering on about a show alone.
It was amazing reading all these comments, pros and cons. People commiserating. We can talk about living in an expensive rental city, the Millennials with entertainment appetites leaving town, how bands who for over a decade had enjoyed bustling shows now losing fans to the changing of nappies and watching Sesame Street with toddlers. The generation gap is real. It’s a sad state of affairs when the new generation of potential live music fans is more interested in cooing about moustache wax at any generic craft beer joint than seeing a live band. It seems that a generation raised on technology need to be gripping their devices at all times. If there was a way to consistently offer live music through a phone screen, we might have a chance at survival.
I have no answers. I tried the sponsored Facebook event; I might as well have just lit a $50 bill with a Bic. The event that had the most “engagements” did the worst at the venue’s ticket wicket. The threat of venues giving up on live music is real. In Vancouver, there are too many rooms and promoters, all with their fingers in the same pie. There are only so many moneyed live music aficionados to go around.
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this subject. I’ve been making commentary on it for a while now. Yet, every time my column deadline rolls around, there this subject is, marked in the hallowed annuls of the Facebook news feed.
So hang in there; that’s about all I can say to both bands and promoters. Try to work together. Some of us may die in battle and others will be quick to take up arms in the perceived glory of being renowned; you need the constitution to fight through the dark times of which there are many, especially financially. Prepare for disappointment, no show is ever set in stone, and expect setbacks; like the drummer that severs his finger at his day job, or the tour van broke down.
People that are drinking also have irrational reactions to the rules of a law-abiding venue; they will hold a grudge against if they were tossed out or denied entry. It may morph into keyboard-warrior Internet trolls and gossipmongers smearing your reputation; the bullshit is real.
Until the virtual venue rules the world, we are here. Try to enjoy!bands vs. promoters, BC, British Columbia, Facebook promotion, Internet trolls, show promotion