That sounds cliche, I know. Everyone’s got a “support something” on their car bumper or their Facebook wall or on their bicep in ink. I don’t let a lot of “cause” stuff cross my blog or social media streams because I prefer to keep those discussions amongst friends. However, as someone who keeps a tiny finger on the giant pulse of the music scene in Texas and beyond, “Houston, we might be starting to have a problem.”
I don’t like dealing in problems, I like solutions, but I feel the need to state a trend that is happening far too frequently for me to feel good about lately.
I’m a booking agent. I contact venues to get shows for artists. Sometimes I harass the crap out of them. Sometimes when it’s not as easy as “Here is a date, thanks for asking,” I get an explanation. Lately I’ve been getting this explanation:
“We’re not booking much because we’ve had such a drop in crowd attendance this fall that we’re not sure how long to keep going.”
For real. I’m not exaggerating. This is from folks in several venues around Texas, big and small, and some out of state venues as well. Not just one or two that aren’t managing their promo right…several this week alone have uttered this sentiment. Good places, not dives. Respectable, lovely environments to see music. It makes me worried. I don’t like to worry, I like to fix things. Most of all, I like to eradicate problems so no fixing is needed.
You can bet that this falls on the shoulders of the venues and the artists. Venues need to make it worth coming to their place of business. Artists need to promote and put on a good show that offers value. I know plenty that do that. Plenty that play at the very places that are struggling. Plenty who have meetings for hours about, “How can we get more folks out to shows?”
Today I’m blogging to the 3rd part of the equation – The Music Fan. You’re needed now more than ever. We’ve got weird stuff brewing in this business…there are claims that CDs will stop being sold all together at the end of 2012. Everyone’s downloading singles. All that is fine because it’s still commerce, it’s still something.
An empty room is an empty room, though. We’ve all got choices and too many of them. A lot of them involve consuming media in our homes. It’s a huge effort to leave the house and go to a venue, but if that’s something you enjoy doing occasionally, do it a bit more. Buy a ticket. Bring your friend. If it’s a free show patronize the bar even if it’s just for Diet Coke. Skip the movie night and see some music. The returns are worth it.
Some say we’re reverting to a world where patrons of the arts are what will keep music going. Major labels aren’t funding things like they used to, and business models are changing. I’m not sure where all that will lead, but I think if we all viewed ourselves as “Patrons of the Arts,” that would be a good start. Definitely support your favorite musicians like you probably already do. Then take a chance on someone who isn’t on your Top 5 list yet. Then pick a venue you love and go see whoever is playing just because you want to support the venue. Even if it’s a free show put your butt in a seat because your body counts. Find the music that speaks to you and patronize it.
These are little things. They will go a long way.
Doors will stay open. Songs will be written. Keep that circle unbroken.