When I was a young folk-singer, rocker, and Jesus musician (consecutively, not concurrently), there were always place to play, if you just had the nerve to pick up the phone and to send out press kits. Then, for about twenty-five years, the number of places to play seemed to be going down every year. Live music in bars was replaced by Karaoke and sports channels on 60″ televisions. Local coffeehouses that featured live music were edged out by national chains that didn’t, and so on.
Recently, I’ve been trying to help some younger musicians get a footing in the “indie” scene. As part of that effort I started keeping track of places where various independent artists and bands in the area are getting gigs. To my surprise, there are many more opportunities than there were just a few years ago.
Using mostly the local newspaper, and keeping track of venues and the bands that play them week after week, I’ve identified dozens of venues I didn’t even know existed before this experiment.
These days, I’m playing mostly solo acoustic singer-songwriter folk-inspired music, and I prefer to play places where the audience isn’t falling-down-drunk. A few weeks ago, I would have guessed there were maybe 15 venues within an hours’ drive that fulfilled those parameters. Now I’m at 58 and counting. (Country and Rock bars are way more numerous, in case you wondered.)
No, I wouldn’t make a living doing it – most of these pay very little if at all. But I have a day job. If I was satisfied with tip jar and CD earnings while building a following, I could keep very busy. One thing’s for sure, griping that there are not enough places to play “out” around here is “off the table.”
I have a feeling that the same kind of exercise would give similar results in many communities around the country. My article on “Researching Local Gigs” gives more information. Click here to take a look.