One of my favourite parts of creating new music is taking it out on the road. You really know if a song works or not when you’ve played it a live audience. Their reaction (of lack of!) can tell you a lot about the song and whether it is a hit or not. Over the last few months I’ve been performing at some of my favourite venues plus new places along the way. I love meeting people at concerts; you can have some great conversations with people on the back of a performance.
It would seem though that live music is under attack. More and more venues are running “pay to play” schemes and I recently heard of a venue in East Anglia that was stating that bands and artists had a to have at least 2000 “likes” on Facebook before they would allow them to play. Sad but true. This of precludes new, unknown acts from getting live experience and a chance for their music to be heard. A lot of these venues are driven by money and the need to make sales both on tickets but also on refreshments, which is far enough but this in turn is leading to exploitation and oppression of artists to achieve this. Unfortunately my experience is that some venues don’t provide a great performance experience for the musicians either. Often the need to make money is more important than the need to provide a good quality PA system, technician or even a sound check beforehand.
So how can we keep the heart of live music beating?
Vote with your feet… Support good live music venues and musicians whenever possible. There are always local arts an open mike nights opening up; go along and you might be surprised by the quality of the acts.
Shout all about it… If you have a good time, tell someone! As a musician if I have great experience, I tell the owner or organiser of the event. Equally if I have a bad experience let them know that too! Make sure you tell your friends and family about new bands, artists and events – a good review is always the best advertising.
Fight for your rights…. Musicians refuse to be exploited! If you think the deal a venue or promoter is offering you is unfair, don’t work with them. The Musicians Union has an “Ask Us First” list; this is a list of venues and promoters that ought to be avoided for various reasons. If you are an MU member, you can consult this list at any time.
Go underground...A lot of music is going back to grass roots level. I’m currently putting together a series of charity concerts for OXFAM in people’s homes. The idea is to invite friends and family to a free music event at home and then encourage donations for OXFAM’s work with disadvantaged women across the world. You could try putting together your own music event!
If in doubt, jam… Strawberry or raspberry flavour? If you’re too scared to perform solo, or are looking for something new, try a jam night. This is great for getting a group of friends together and making music and just having a good time. .
The good news is that live music is on the up! It has struggled through the recession but is making a comeback. People are realising that sitting at home in front of the TV isn’t overly exciting and want a night out that doesn’t cost the earth. More and more bands are choosing to make music independently rather than through a record company so there is a wealth different music out there. So go forth and make beautiful live music!