Very interesting read by Planet Rock DJ Wyatt Wendels on his blog about how can new and upcoming bands make it in today’s live scene. They don’t have the record label advances and playing live can see them sacrifice up to 30% of their merchandise sales to a venue – their main income stream when on the road.
In a recent interview I did with Willie Dowling (The Dowling Poole) he made similar points about venues charging bands and ‘pay-to-play’. That has existed for many, many years of course but now there are few record companies around to pick up the bill for the band as part of their advance.
One thing not mentioned is apathy of fans. The younger fans do get out and support bands, although ticket prices can be prohibitive, however fans in their 40’s/50’s tend to go to see the established bands they know and love. Nothing wrong with that, yet below the arena/Apollo sized bands are artists who had a reasonable success in the 80’s say like Terry Brock (Strangeways) , who played a recent London gig to under 100 people. Dave Ling picked up on this in his Diary page –
“I left the place bathed in a warm, comfortable glow, it was a crying shame that so few had been present to see it despite admission having been set at a mere fifteen quid on the door. In the face of such apathy one can only wonder how much longer US artistes might possibly consider making the journey.”
It is not all doom and gloom as bands hook-up with like minded souls for a decent co-headlining tour of the UK and the festival season helps many bands. There are tireless promoters like Jon Patrick and the House of Progression who bring many fine artists to an appreciative audience. They have a very clear view on live shows and who should get the financial benefit:
“The House Of Progression believes that 100% of all artist merchandise goes to the artist. If any venues want a percentage that’s fine, as long as the artists get the same percentage of their bar take. The artists invest their talent, time and money to create Merch, it often makes the whole tour viable. Venues have not taken time, money and talent to create this. Why should they take a cut!”
Bands themselves use Pledge/Kickstarter campaigns to fund live shows and DVD releases.
Live music is the heartbeat of rock music and although it has not stopped, it is in need of some surgery to keep the music and bands going.