Monthly Archives: March 2010

I Need to Get Better

This is a reply to myself in the previous blog, “What Happened to Built-in Crowds”. (This is nothing new, I argue with myself all the time).

I need to get better. I need to sing better, I need to play guitar better, I need to compose better music, I need to write better lyrics.

Marketing and promotion can only help if you’re good. At something. Maybe you’re not a great singer, but people will come hear you if you’re a good guitar player or songwriter. Maybe you’re not a good guitar player, but people will come hear you if you’re a good singer.

If you’re just average, and not really good at anything, your friends will come see you– for awhile. But to win fans you have to be good, at something.

If you’re good, people will open doors for you. They’ll tell their friends about you– “You have to hear this!” Other musicians will invite you to open for them at a gig. The word will get around. That’s more important that the best website, the best MySpace or Facebook sites, Twitter, emails, etc.

Of course if you are good, then the-above mentioned promotional tools can really help.

It’s hard to evaluate oneself, but I think I’m a decent guitar player, a decent songwriter, and a below-average singer. So I’m taking singing lessons to improve my singing. But I also think I need to improve my musicianship and composing.

I’m going to spend less time on promotion and more time getting better. I want to hear rumors of people emailing their friends saying, “you’ve got to hear this guy Rob Roper”. I want to hear other bands or singer-songwriters approach me and say, “Your music is important, I want to help turn people on to you. Will you open for me next month?” When I hear those sort of things, I’ll know I’m good.


What Happened to Built-in Crowds?

When you approach a venue for a gig, they ask, “how many people can you bring?” Some follow that up with, “we don’t have a built-in crowd here”. Usually even a small venue wants you to bring 20 people, which is dang near impossible for someone just starting out, and just beginning to build a fan base. But how can you get fans if you can’t get gigs? It’s a chicken and egg dilemna.

I was talking to Dan, my drummer, about this recently. He reminded me that, in the past, clubs had a built-in crowd, and people went to the same one or two clubs/bars all the time, regardless of who was playing. I remember that era. I remember I had a few places I liked to go, where bands played original music, and always enjoyed the thrill of hearing a good band (or singer-songwriter) who I had never heard of before. I still do this.

So what happened? How did we get from the venues with built-in crowds to venues where you have to bring your own crowd? Another negative with this is that, how can you reach new people if you always play for the same people you bring? I guess you can reach the fans of the other band playing, but that’s it.

Of course, the other side of this is, with a built-in crowd, the band (or singer-songwriter) has to get a reaction. As Dan said, you had to be *good* to be invited back. Without a built-in crowd, whether or not you’re invited back has nothing to do with how good you are, it’s how many people you bring.