“Imagine I’m Yelling this at You” By Herbert West: Part One
For the last year and a half, I’ve worked at a semi-popular venue here in Seattle. During this time, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of outstanding shows: Pickwick, Hey Marseilles, Head and the Heart, The Maldives, Grand Hallway, Campfire OK, Kelli Schaefer, and Bryan John Appleby…the list goes on and on. But there’s a flipside to every coin. I’ve also been subjected to clowns who spend more time getting funny haircuts and finding jeans so tight that they’ll be sterile before their 25th birthday, than worrying about what’s really important: getting people to show up and watch them.
Being in a band is a job. At least it should be considered one when you’re headlining a venue that holds hundreds of people. Alas, time and time again, I’ve stood with 12 other people watching a band meander through a set of terrible songs, half- assing a performance because they feel they’re too good to play to no one. Well guess what? It’s your fucking fault that no one is there.
Let me tell you a tale. A couple months ago, we had a show booked and at a week out I realized that the entire bill was doing nothing to promote it. There was no poster. There wasn’t even a Facebook event page, something even the laziest idiot in the world can set up. Not a goddamn thing was out there to let anyone know the show was happening. So we pushed it back to the end of the month in the hopes that the bands would actually show some initiative and promote themselves.
A four-band bill drew four people paid. I’m sure you can all do simple math, but just to drive my point home, that’s one person paid per band. *One person paid per fucking band.* Absolutely pathetic. If each band had done the slightest amount of work, they could have drawn at least 20 people
Per band. Simple math again, that’s 80 people. Suddenly there’s a crowd. You’re not wasting your time playing to no one and I’m not wasting my time working at a show that’s losing my place of employment a shitload of money.
The fact is, promoting your band in the year 2012 is so easy that a lobotomized imbecile could do it. The internet has made it so you don’t even have to flyer anymore (although it’s still a really good idea). Facebook, Bandcamp, Vimeo/Youtube, blogs, your own website, there are countless ways to put yourself out there and get people interested. There was a time in history when you had to send out press kits to venues (which most likely included your demo on *cassette*) then follow up with phone call after phone call to get booked. Then you had to go to shows where bands similar to yours were playing and hand out flyers. You had to interact with people, in person.*Have actual face to face conversations with other human beings.* Could you imagine if today’s lazy ass bands had to do that? Capitol Hill would be a ghost town.
There are a lot of bands in Seattle. Way too many. Everyone with a pulse in this city plays some stupid instrument with a gaggle of other fruitcakes, making what someone, somewhere, might consider music. What separates the men from the boys (and the women from the girls) is whether or not you’re actually putting any effort into the aspects of playing in a band that aren’t making music. If you’re not going to promote yourself, stay in your fucking garage.