As some of you might know in my previous life, I was an audio technician touring with various groups – some known and unknown. I also happen to have eclectic musical tastes. In the past few years I have stumbled upon some musicians through the Interwebs. I have supported some through Kickstarter, Bandcamp, buying direct, and most recently Patreon. I also have had some interesting conversations with artists on Twitter.
The most recent interaction I had got me thinking and created this post. But first the recap of the conversation with Marian Call (@mariancall http://mariancall.com) and Kim Boekbinder [Impossible Girl] (@KimBoekbiner http://theimpossiblegirl.com). There were branches in the conversation so I tried to make it as understandable as a Twitter stream from an iPhone can be.
Me: @KimBoekbinder @mariancall i am curious why go to cities where sales are strong and not go to uncharted areas to increase audience base?
Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder I try to alternate. You can’t eat if you play too many uncharted areas. Strong strong weak, strong strong weak.
Kim: @BradfordBenn @mariancall Oh yeah – that’s what labels pay for. Those of us without labels can only afford to go where we are wanted.
Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Touring is incredibly expensive, on the order of hundreds per day. If you don’t recover that you sink.
Marian: @KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn My exception was the 50 states tour. I carefully planned strong and weak cities for months.
Marian: @KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn It was a great experience and made lots of new fans, but after 9 months I wound up with $0 in the bank.
Kim: @BradfordBenn What @mariancall said. Only I have so few strong cities I can’t get far enough to increase my presence.
Kim: @mariancall @BradfordBenn Not only is tour expensive – it is exhausting. So you can’t just work another job to make ends meet.
Me: @mariancall @KimBoekbinder understand the costs of touring. Thanks for clarifications, new world since i was touring as an audio tech. Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Audio techs rule. Me: @KimBoekbinder @mariancall still support both of you & your work and would like to see you both play live. How can i help?
Kim: @BradfordBenn @mariancall So cool. I love touring, wish I could just go and go and go.
Kim: @BradfordBenn @mariancall Where is Wonderment?
Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Where are you, first of all?
Me: Wonderment is a state of mind, learning and seeing things that are interesting. I travel quite a lot for work, my home is South Bend, IN but have spent time in So Cal the past 3 months. Yes, i listen to you on planes
Marian: Sometimes it takes a couple years but we get there! @BradfordBenn Folks who get really excited about planning a concert near them, and who can bring 30-50 people, mostly get their way.
Marian: @bradfordbenn Not to pile on you! It’s a good question. It’s a funny business, far less profit and far more risk than most folks think.
Me: @mariancall didn’t think piling on. Thanks for concern. Think having good conversation. Might even become a blog post.
Marian: @BradfordBenn Being on my email list is the first best step: http://mariancall.fanbridge.com this year I won’t tour much, but I will a little.
Me: @mariancall yup am on the list and have already bought Sketchbook. Will get CD also cause i prefer WAV to FLAC and MP3
I know much of the things that they were talking about from my past experiences, but the scale was very different. Understanding this different economy and music sales process in this century is interesting and different from other businesses. When I travel for work and make sales calls, I often ask to go see the potential customers that are not familiar with my company. When I travel on sales calls, I can interweave existing customers with new customers because there are multiples of each in one city. For a musician that is not always possible, as there are only so many customers (fans) in each city. However the costs remain high for each city, hotel, transport, equipment rental, venue costs… etc.
You may ask, why am I sharing this post and conversation. There are a couple of reasons.
The first was that I found it interesting so I thought my reader would also. As someone involved in the professional audio industry it is very good to hear from other people involved in the process.
It reminds me why it is important to purchase music and not just stream it or download. Pay or support someone for their effort. I am not saying you have to support everyone, but support the artists that you like.
Go out and try new music, search the interwebs, branch out, you might find something you like. Go to concerts that friends have recommended. I think you get the idea.
There are more music outlets than iTunes, Amazon, and Google.
A few suggestions of some of the artists I have been supporting: