On Thanksgiving I was walking down Kalakaua Avenue to the Halekalani (house without a key) when I came upon Troy Fernandes, playing the hell out of the Ukelele. He had a generator, P.A. system, card table, stack of CDs (better move ’em quick), and an ipod with backing tracks. I bought his CD as a gesture of appreciation even though I ripped it onto the Ipod and will never play it again.
I started thinking about how in times past it has been a tough world for niche instrumentalists. You had to have a critical mass of people liking you in a limited geographic area to convince a venue to give you a gig. Now people can see you online, so it is less appealing to pay $10 to park on Sunset Strip, $10 admission to the Viper room, $10 for a two drink minimum, to see a performer in their 35 minute slot, for which they have paid the club $250 up front. The staff attitude is thrown in for free.
Mass media will still tell you you need to be sexy, ripped, young, and singing an impassioned love song to be great, but they are rapidly losing control of public consciousness. It’s a great time to be in the music business, but man,it’s a lot of work!
I just sent out my Reverbnation mailing list for our two gigs this weekend in Denver. I looked at the click through rate last week-it ain’t pretty. For Hillbilly Hellcats, my band, it has come to the point where T.V. song use and downloads are working well, but live shows are mostly an advertisment, something to put on youtube, something to show that we exist and can play our instruments.
We are getting a lot of likes and fans this week on Jango.com. My $100 payola to them is about half used up. I’m not paying any more, so I wonder if having an established fan base there will keep us in rotation- I hope so.