Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The big squeeze

Seeing two DIY bands who are friends of mine, in completely different music scenes, both express a resigned exhaustion at the state of live music last night was a real depressing eye opener.

Both DIY, both on the hunt for gigs, both desperate to play live and meet people and do all the good stuff that comes with playing live, and both utterly fed up. Can't say I blame them either, as I'm in exactly the same boat.

Bookings ain't what they used to be, and usually if I'd get fed up at the state of things, I'd just book a load of rooms myself and just promote a tour that way, but I've been completely unable to do that this year either. Venues closing down, or ramping up prices (gigging in Glasgow went from £50 to £150 for room hire alone) means you either lose a ton of money, or you just don't bother. 

And why would you bother? Audiences are fairly thin on the ground at the moment, and only getting spread thinner due to more and more mid level bands hoovering up the only venues and promoters left, and realistically who are those venue owners going to trust to fill their places more? A balding 40 year old with dreams of getting 20 people in a room to listen to his unsigned ambient electronica, or a hot new band on a label with a booking agent whispering in their ear about how much of a push they're getting from various press outlets, etc?

It works for them, but just means myself (and the countless other bands in the same boat) have fuck all places to actually go and play. There's no sweatbox anymore, little places you can cram a few sweaty people into and have a good time for very little money, where you can try out a few new bits in a pressure free environment. It absolutely sucks.

So outside of booking a tour where I (once again) would have to book rooms, promote, do sound, the door, etc. all myself, there aren't not a lot of options. And I'm the lucky one here too, as I've amassed a fairly respectable audience for my stuff. It's not massive by any stretch, but those new bands trying to get someone to listen to them are in a really shit position:the mid level touring act brimming with industry and investment rolls into town and hoovers up all the money and audience, the huge acts like your Taylor Swifts just annihilate everything else, and you're left looking at a DIY scene with limited funds, limited spaces and limited opportunities. No wonder so many just jack it in.

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