The TLP Network

Sharing the Hate, Spreading the Pain: On Firearms

by on Oct.18, 2007, under Articles, Sharing the Hate

Many bands have two approaches to booking a show. Through these two approaches, there are failures and there are triumphs. One technique is almost guaranteed to burn you out, and one technique is almost guaranteed to bum you out. With those odds, one might not want to book a show at all. However, let us assume you do want to book shows, and you want to choose the technique that is best for you. Metaphorically, these two approaches are best compared to a shotgun and a rifle.

The Shotgun:
The person with a shotgun only has to come close to their target. They point in the general direction of their prey, and if the first shot misses, there are two to four others closely behind it. The band that follows the shotgun approach will book as many shows close together as possible, take a short break, and then book as many shows again.

This band probably does not take any one show seriously. They have numbers on their side, and exposure as their shield. If people do not show up to a show, they can catch the next one. These bands are less likely to promote their shows, because they are inexperienced, and have too many to keep track of them. The band shrugs off the fact their familiar audience members dwindle over the course of the month since they have exposure to new faces.

Often times, newer bands in the area will start with a shotgun approach allowing themselves to join any bill even at the last second. Since they have no name and no reputation, these bands usually open or close the night. With these poor slots, they still have no power in the scene except that they can be found on a bill any night of the week.

To use the shotgun technique to your advantage you have to develop a mailing list, hand out demos, and use stickers to keep your band’s name in their memory. If you are playing to get your name out there fast, then you have to leave an impression on them somehow. Start with convincing people to stick around to watch you play and build from there.

On the shows you play that do have people in attendance; you need to turn them into fans. The people that are in the audience are those to befriend and bring out to future shows. If you just show up, play your set, and leave, kindly just leave the scene and go back to your empty house parties.

The Rifle:
The person with a rifle stalks their prey form a distance and with great precision and accuracy. They wait patiently for opportunity and then strike when all the pieces have lined into place. The band that follows a rifle approach will book fewer, larger shows, and will treat each show as if their career playing out depends on it.

The band that follows the rifle approach takes each show seriously, that fact leads itself to a band you want to book with. When it comes to promotions, they usually have a plan since they do not have the shotgun luxury of hit or miss. Usually these bands play events, or special occasions/benefit shows. They have a reason for being there other than just being on a stage.

Often times, older bands in the area will fall back into a rifle approach allowing themselves to use their name and reputation to get people to shows. They will play out in select venues, where they know the system. These bands are treated with respect, and usually control some of the aspects of the show. These aspects are slots, bill mates, and most importantly the date of the show.

To use the rifle technique to your advantage you have to promote the fact that you are playing the show. If no one knows you are playing, you have just wasted your once a month opportunity to have people come out and see you. The rifle bands should also book with other rifle bands so they can coordinate promotions, and take in the perks of having a largely attended show.

Where the rifle technique fails is when your band is the only band promoting the event. If you can not increase your following with each show, over time your natural fans will come and go. If you are the only band to bring people to the show, and you are the large act, the venue will consider the flop your failure. If the event itself is successful or not, the month long of promotions leading up to it keeps your name alive in the scene.

The risks using either technique then lead your band to burning out from wearing yourself down with too many shows, or to bumming out from having your one big show flop on you. There is a simple way to rebound from either of those two scenarios, and that is to go ‘into the studio to record,’ since you will come out of the studio with a lasting and usable product. In either case, there is always a next time, and that next time might be the big show you have been waiting for. Until then, you can just chalk it up to experience.

* Note: Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

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