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Re-thinking the rules of gigging

28 February 2017

Musicians are programmed to think in a certain way. We grow up watching our favourite bands who grew up emulating their favourite bands and since the 1960’s there has been a similar structure to how bands think and strategise. However what has worked for the last 50 years is quickly changing due to technology, distribution, as well as pricing & costs. What will work for the next 10-20 years will be radically different to the last 50 and the reason why much of the music industry is playing catch up is because it’s not embracing change fast enough.

If we look back over the history of live music, the theme is to buy a van and go on tour playing in venues across the country to small audiences in the hope that their fanbase grows for the next tour to build momentum and sell more records. Musicians call this ‘The Toilet Tour’ playing in small sweaty venues to a handful of kids every night, however these venues are closing down fast all over the country/world because they can’t compete with rising costs. Economics has dictated that over the past few years ticket prices have had to rise, more shows performed weekly and therefore ticket sales have dwindled leaving even the most passionate historical venues with no option but to close its doors.

But this is 2017 and rather than focus on history we have the option to re-write the rule book! In fact the rules have been ripped up and thrown into the firey flames of an Iron Maiden album cover. The limitations of the past are no longer and the future has exciting and powerful opportunities for musicians to gig anywhere, anytime to look after their audience.

The new evolution of social media has prompted a new fight which is ‘who can win at live streaming’. According to Digiday, Facebook spent $16.4 Million in its first month of advertising the new live streaming facility and since then Youtube and Instagram have both stuck their flag in the ‘live stream’ ground. 

So what does this mean for musicians?

It means everywhere is now a gig! You can perform live in a rehearsal room, a living room, a carpark or like the Foo Fighters did this week at a 500 capacity venue in the middle of nowhere (Frome.. Where? Exactly!) and FB live’d it to fans all over the world!

I can already hear the whining noise of a million musicians crying ‘It’s not the same!’

Nope it’s not the same but the world moves forwards and evolves and you have the choice of moving with it or being left behind with your utopian views of what it should be like and what it was like back in the day when music was great bla bla bla bla!

If you are a musician and you want to plan a gig in your bedroom, and treat it like a gig, promote it properly and perform it like a gig whether it’s as a guitarist playing to backing tracks or a singer songwriter or a Rap artist or even a death metal band.. you now have the power to gain an audience, look after your fanbase and promote your music, your talent and even your merch for no cost whatsoever!

Are you touring for you or for your fanbase and the good of the band?

The key is how creative can you be and what can you do to engage your audience so it’s an actual live gig rather than you making a performance video. The live streams on Insta/FB/Youtube all have different features and pro’s and cons and it’s up to you whether it’s a moment in time and then gone forever or whether it stays on your platform for others to watch later. Personally I love the idea that it isn’t captured forever making it real and more live, giving people more of a reason to tune in.

The rule book has been destroyed – we need to write a new one forgetting the old systems and creating new ones around today’s opportunities!


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