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The Bricks With Which You Will Build Your Palace...

There are an awful lot of bands out there who spend their time thinking about the future.  They imagine everything they’ve ever wanted, but fail to give themselves fully to what’s already in front of them.  It’s like the minimum wage worker who says to himself that he’ll start to care when he gets paid more.  Meanwhile, the fact that he doesn’t commit himself to his work will keep him stuck where he is.

I see it out here in L.A. a lot.  Bands will play clubs like the Whisky and the Roxy before they’re ready to.  They call on every last one of their fans to do them a favor and come out to the show to help make them look good for whomever they think may be watching.  What ends up happening is that their fans fight through traffic to spend $15 to park, $15 to get in and $7 for a beer.  For that kind of money, you’d better put on a show.  Generally what happens though is that the club doesn’t care about the band, the sound guy doesn’t know who they are and there are 5 other bands on the bill, so they end up going on late and/or getting their set cut short and playing a show that’s worth $5 in front of people who payed a lot more.

If you want a great formula for getting people to stop going to your shows then this is it.  Getting caught up in what YOU want while losing sight of the people who already in front of you will ensure that your attendance collapses and with it any momentum that you may have been working for.

Instead, consider what makes for a great experience for your fans.  If your fans would have a better experience at a smaller venue where you can play for as long as you want and recruit a few of your friends bands to open for you, then do it!  Keep doing it until you sell that place out every time you play there.  Then move on to something bigger and better.

Chasing the carrot on the end of a stick will burn you out faster than just about anything else.  Instead, build your palace one brick at a time by rocking every laste person who comes to see you.  Every time.

If your plan is to pour all of your efforts and resources into the pursuit of some day getting a big break then you just might be missing out on the very things that would ultimately get you that break.  If you don’t build your foundation on commitment to every moment and every step of the process then you’re building on shaky ground and setting yourself up for a fall.

It’s like building a house.  Rest assured, the big bad wolf will come.  When he does, will he find a house of straw, a house of sticks, or a house of bricks?  Your level of commitment to the people who are already in front of you will ultimately determine the answer.

Build, don’t chase.   Building requires presence and commitment.  Chasing takes you away from what’s right in front of you.  The stronger you build your foundation, the more people will be drawn to you.  The harder you chase after the carrot on the end of the stick, the harder youNever lose sight of the fact that the present moment is all you’ll ever have.  You can never give your gifts in the future.  You can only give them in the present.  So if you should find yourself playing to two people, a sound man and a bartender, then knock their socks off.  When you rehearse, knock your own socks off.  Your commitment to the present moment is your pathway to success.

The time is now.  You’ll never find yourself in tomorrow.  You’ll only find yourself in the present moment.

You can only play to the people who are already in front of you.

Scott James is a Guitarist / Composer/ Web Designer / Blogger in Los Angeles, CA. 

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Reader Comments (3)

I agree. Gigging on the strip is overrated in terms of making more fans and getting noticed. Play smaller clubs out of the major cities. Do that for a couple of years. Save the Roxy for your one time big industry showcase and get all those fans you made in the outer zones to fill the house.

April 30 | Unregistered CommenterMoses Avalon


Nice article - kind of like the zen of music business. Sometimes the same thing applies to time spent on the computer vs time spent actually writing and performing to those small audiences. If you're building, somehow the next steps seem to find you.

April 30 | Unregistered CommenterJackie Henrion

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